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Be a leader, not a boss

Be a leader, not a boss

In the world of business, we have bosses…and then we have leaders. If you are a manager, supervisor, or business owner, you should carefully analyse your managerial style and assess whether you’re a boss or a leader within your corporation.

Anyone can be a boss. Well, perhaps not anyone, but it is far easier to simply be an average boss than to take on the qualities of a good leader. There is definitely a marked difference between a leader and a boss. The word ‘boss’ often comes with negative connotations, while ‘leaders’ are looked up to as good examples and sources of inspiration.

So how do you transcend from being a boss into a respected leader in your company? In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between bosses and leaders and how you can become an inspirational leader for your employees.

The limitations of a bad boss

We’ve all had a terrible boss at one time or another in our lives, or if you haven’t, you definitely know someone who has. The ‘bad boss’ archetype is so common that we see it in dozens of TV shows, and even entire, full-length movies have been made on the concept of horrible bosses. People love to complain about their bosses and even blame them for a lot of what is going wrong in their career.

But did you know that, according to a recent study, just under half of working professionals have at some stage quit their job because of their boss? That is an absolutely staggering amount! And not everyone has the luxury to leave a job just because they don’t like their boss.

A terrible working environment

Because a boss has some sort of authority over their employees, they have the power to really make their employees’ lives miserable.

With full-time employees spending around one-third of their lives at work and around their bosses, the work environment should be satisfying and inspiring, not exhausting and depressing.

A boss can make all the difference to the lives of their employees, and a bad boss may have a truly negative effect on not just an employee’s work-life but also their life in general. So it is essential for bosses, managers, and supervisors to remember the vital role that they play.

Transitioning into a management position and its challenges

Being promoted to a position in management can often be exciting, and it usually involves a pay increase along with bigger responsibilities. But if you are new to being in a managerial position, the transition could be a difficult one, and you may find yourself struggling to take on the new role. If this sounds like you, don’t worry, it is completely normal.

The first thing that you should realise and take into account is that now that you are in a managerial role, you have a big responsibility towards the employees working under you. You have the opportunity to lead with integrity and inspiration…although it may not be easy at first.

Some of the major challenges that new managers and bosses face are the following:

Lack of training

Many people get put in management positions with very little training being given to them. Likewise, many business owners start their businesses with never having managed any sort of team before. This lack of training and knowledge is often the root of many other problems. If you feel like you need more training to be a good leader, make sure you do your best to get it.


Make sure that you have taken on leadership positions for the right reasons. Don’t do it for power and glory, do it for the people. Even if you don’t consider yourself a power-hungry person, once you get yourself into a position of power, it may bring out the worst in you, and it is important to be conscious of your frame of mind.

Lacking interpersonal skills

Being a leader means you’re going to be doing a lot of communicating, and you’re going to need excellent interpersonal skills. For someone who is not naturally this way inclined, you may find this part of being a leader very difficult in the beginning.

Not as much structure

As an employee, you usually have a lot of structure to govern your day to day proceedings. As a manager, you may find yourself with a lot of ‘free’ time. As a result, you may often feel at a loose end, even if there are many things that you could be doing. Make use of self-discipline to get the most out of your day and the time you have available at work.

What is the difference between being a leader and being a boss?

When it comes to discussing bosses and leaders, it’s important to be aware of the key differences between leaders and bosses and their different managerial styles. Some differences include:

Leaders are influencers: bosses are commanders

It is far harder to be an influencer than a commander. Commanding is easy; you simply give out a list of instructions and use a commanding presence to get them done. But influencing is far more subtle and nuanced. When leaders influence their employees, it feels as if the employees want to get their tasks done instead of just begrudgingly getting on with their tasks. One of the most important aspects of a good leader is their ability to influence others.

So how do you become more influential? You’re able to grow your influence by showing that you really care for your team as well as explaining the reasons behind your decisions so that your team members feel appreciated and learn more about your reasons for doing things.

Leaders inspire: bosses explain

As a boss, it is your duty to explain tasks and processes to your employees, but true leaders will go further than just explain. They will inspire! Leaders inspire their employees by the way in which they deliver their messages. Employees are also more likely to be inspired if they respect their leader and have a thorough understanding of the work that has been set out for them. Finally, a good leader will inspire employees to the extent that they’ll be excited about their work.

Leaders are part of the team: bosses are ‘better’ than the team

Bosses see themselves as ‘better’ than their employees and have no problem telling people what to do and delegating tasks, but they won’t get into the nitty-gritty of things themselves. They may also treat employees as ‘lesser’.

Leaders are different in that they see themselves as part of the team and are willing to lend a helping hand wherever necessary to get the job done. Don’t think employees don’t notice this; they really do. Seeing your leader be part of the team is one of the biggest reasons why you may start to grow immense respect for them.

Leaders know how to share their authority: bosses don’t

Bosses want to hold onto all of their authority and power for themselves. They are at the top while everyone else is below them. This is a very totalitarian way of thinking and does not often garner them much respect.

On the other hand, leaders are not scared to delegate some of their authority by giving certain responsibilities to other team members. This is a far more effective way of getting things done, and it allows employees who show leadership potential to also practice their leadership skills.

Leaders are mentors: bosses are disciplinarians

Bosses are known to shout, grumble, and punish you should you do things wrong. They often focus on the negative while not doing much to assist employees or listen and understand them. A leader, on the other hand, acts as a form of mentor to their employees and is always there to offer expert advice on how things can be done better.

Do you want to transform from a boss into a leader?

It is often easier to start out as a leader instead of shifting from a boss into a leader. This is because your employees may have already made up their minds about you, and it may be difficult to change their opinion. Another thing is that habits are challenging to break, and if you have already gotten yourself into some unhealthy habits, it’s going to be tough to break out of them.

That being said, it is definitely worth making an effort to change your managerial style from a leader to a boss. Your employees will eventually notice the change and respect you for it.

Be thoughtful with your employees

The first thing you should do is to start treating your employees more thoughtfully. It may sound cliche but try treating them as you would want to be treated if you were in their position. Treating your employees kindly and with respect is the first step in gaining their admiration and respect, and they will be far happier to listen to you if you treat them well.

Think for the team, not yourself

Good leaders will also make all their decisions based on what is best for the team as well as what is best for the company. They won’t just be thinking about themselves. So start shifting your mindset to how your decisions affect your team members before you carry out new projects. Being fair is one of the most important qualities of a good leader.

Remember to always hear what your employees have to say and take their concerns into account.

Qualities of a good leader

We thought we would end this article by listing the 10 top qualities of a good leader in the workplace. In our opinion, these top 10 leadership qualities include:

  • Confident

A team leader often needs to deliver speeches and deal with large numbers of people. They need to be confident in their own ideas and decisions in order for other team members to want to follow them.

  • Communicative

Communication is key when it comes to effective leadership. You should know how to talk to and listen to your employees and provide a clear path for communication to take place.

  • Caring

You should take a true interest in your employees and care about their wellbeing, health, and safety in the workplace.

  • Approachable

Your employees and team members should be able to approach you with any workplace-related idea, issue or dilemma. Growing a report with your employees is one way to make you more approachable.

  • Organised

Leaders should lead by example, and this means being organised, meeting deadlines and arriving to work on time.

  • Hard-working

Bosses are known for being lazy, but a good leader is set apart by showing their work ethic and not being afraid to ‘get their hands dirty’ to help their team.

  • Knowledgeable

Leaders should act as a source of knowledge for all other team members. They should have an in-depth understanding of the workings of the company, as well as updated industry knowledge.

  • Patient

Patience and understanding are the key to great leadership. A good leader explains things with patience instead of getting irritable with team members that take a while to understand certain concepts and processes.

  • Flexible

Structure is great, but in the business landscape, things are always changing. Just look at the recent pandemic and the effect it took! Flexible managers know the best ways to adapt to challenging situations.

  • Creative

Being creative is a great advantage for good leaders as sometimes the best ideas require a little bit of lateral thinking.

If you feel like you don’t naturally have the above qualities and skillsets, you can always make the time and effort to start developing them to the best of your ability. Some things take time and practice!

If you are a business owner, manager, supervisor, or anyone else in a leadership position, know that you have a responsibility to your team members to be the very best leader you can be! It is highly rewarding and fulfilling to be and become a great leader. You’ll soon see the massive positive influence that you have on your employees’ lives!

Now that you’re ready to become the best leader you can be, why not read some of our other interesting articles to broaden your business knowledge further!


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