If you’re in management, you’re likely used to being referred to as the boss. But are you just a boss, or are you a true leader? And why does it matter? Let’s take a deep dive into the difference between leaders and bosses and why you should always strive to be a leader.

Leader vs. Boss

A boss is what most people think of when they generically picture middle management. You’re there to enforce the rules, minimize risk, and deliver predictable results. You judge your employees’ success by how well they follow the established policies and procedures.

A leader, on the other hand, is a visionary and an innovator. You’re there to make a difference, and you aren’t afraid to take risks. You also know how to inspire others to step outside the status quo. You give your team members the tools they need to succeed and encourage them to pursue excellence.

Why Be a Leader?

Being a boss is the “safe” route. You’ll maintain things as they are and perhaps make them incrementally better. You won’t be called to account by your own superiors, and you can coast through each day.

But being a boss also means going on autopilot. You won’t get the best out of yourself or your team members. And you won’t contribute to making your company a success.

True leaders can change the world, or at least their little piece of it. You’ll inspire, lead by example, and empower your team members. You’ll contribute directly to your organization’s success and set your employees on a path toward lifelong success.

So, Which Am I?

Wondering whether you’re currently a boss or a leader? Here are some key differences:

  • Bosses direct while leaders show the way.
  • Bosses blame others, while leaders hold themselves accountable.
  • Bosses closely guard their assets, while leaders contribute to the greater good.
  • Bosses prioritize their own outcomes, while leaders seek the best outcomes for all.

Becoming a leader can feel scary and overwhelming. But it’s the best thing you can do for yourself, your employees, and your organization. Take it one step at a time and remain confident. Leadership requires a different mindset and slightly different skills, which anyone can learn.

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