6 Steps To Be a Leader and Not a Boss (Key Differences With Examples)

Employee Teaches BOSS a Lesson

What is a leader?

A leader is someone who actively contributes to an organization’s achievement of its objectives by upholding others and acting with the utmost professionalism in their own work. Managing subordinates is a common duty for leaders, but it is not always Some employees receive promotions as a direct result of their demonstrated leadership abilities. Because they have a clear understanding of an organization’s mission and future vision, leaders enable their teams to accomplish more.

What is a boss?

A boss is a manager or supervisor who doesn’t exercise leadership skills when managing their team. Although you have some power as a supervisor within a company hierarchy, your title doesn’t adequately convey how you conduct yourself, accomplish an organization’s objectives, or support employees. Lack of leadership can hinder an organization’s success by underutilizing team members’ potential or ignoring innovative opportunities.

Key differences between leaders and supervisors

Here are a few significant distinctions between supervisors who lead and those who don’t:

Communication styles

Some supervisors use one-way communication. Due to their expertise in project completion, they operate under the assumption that they are in charge. Therefore, they give orders or tell employees what to do. When employees speak to their manager, the manager hears them but only attempts to comprehend the literal meaning of what is being said. If upset, supervisors may act intimidatingly when communicating with staff, instilling fear of the consequences and expressing anger or frustration.

Even when given responsibilities, leaders value discussions where employees can offer their input. Leaders operate under the premise that a team member can identify potential improvements in how tasks are completed, and that person should feel encouraged to share those improvements. Leaders recognize this requires listening. A leader can better understand how an employee might be feeling or thinking by listening intently and observing how they communicate. When under pressure, leaders control their emotions and keep their attention on the task at hand rather than allowing rage to divert them.

As an illustration, a manager starts each day by leaving a list of tasks on the desks of all employees for them to review when they arrive. They dont make sure all tasks are clear and accomplishable. Each day, a leader sets out a list of tasks during a team meeting where workers can ask questions, learn about one another’s projects, and offer feedback on how their own projects are progressing.

Responses to mistakes

In spite of the fact that mistakes happen in all professional settings, some managers behave as though they never should. When mistakes are made, they react by getting angry and making the employee feel bad about their mistake. When the manager makes a mistake, they might try to place the blame elsewhere. These managers typically expect their staff to figure out what went wrong on their own rather than providing feedback to help them avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

Leaders are aware that errors are inevitable and can serve as valuable learning opportunities. As long as employees put forth sincere effort, they can respond to mistakes with compassion thanks to this attitude. Leaders are comfortable hearing about mistakes from employees because they don’t worry about being disrespected. Leaders accept responsibility for their errors and reflect on how they could have done more to prevent others from making them.

An illustration of this would be if a worker for a non-leader undercharged a client. The employee thinks about covering up the error to avoid a confrontation, but instead emails the manager The manager summons the worker into his office and vents his annoyance before ordering the worker to resume work. An employee who commits the same error but works for a boss goes to acknowledge the mistake right away, concerned with coming up with a fix. The supervisor acknowledges the worker’s acceptance of responsibility and they talk about what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again.

Delegation methods

Some managers try to make as many decisions as they can to protect their power. When delegating, they give orders and dont show appreciation. Sometimes they believe that workers perform at their highest level automatically, without encouragement or motivation. However, they also micromanage to ensure that workers perform their duties as they would. Because they think they know best, these managers assign responsibilities without consulting the staff.

Because they want to know how to make the most of the strengths of their teams, leaders are curious about how employees would assign responsibilities. Leaders value the contributions and skill sets of team members because they are aware that workers have a choice in where they work. They appreciate the advantages of inspiring and motivating workers, and they make themselves available to assist with projects. Employees are confident in their roles and don’t worry about their managers micromanaging them. When discussing assignments, managers should ensure that staff members concur that the deadlines and procedures are reasonable.

An employee receives an email from a manager with a new sales lead that needs to become a client as soon as possible. They don’t help the employee or provide context about the client. In the same circumstance, a manager confronts the worker face-to-face They discuss the potential of the lead and why they believe this employee is suited for success. The manager inquires as to what can be done to assist the employee in making the sale.


Due to the fact that they fill a less typical position within an organization, some managers believe they are exceptional. They view their work as a matter of authority and power. They may draw the conclusion from this that they are not required to adhere to the same standards as other workers. These managers believe they are above making mistakes, so when faced with difficulties, they look elsewhere for the source of the problem.

Leaders perceive themselves as an equal member of the team. They see their role as one of inspiring others and serving as an example. Leaders must always uphold the organization’s standards because others may emulate their behavior. Leaders have a sense of humility. When faced with difficulties, they turn inward and begin by considering how they could get better.

When another manager informs the supervisor that one of their employees is being considered for a promotion, for instance, the supervisor might become anxious. The supervisor becomes more critical of the employee and avoids all contact with them out of a fear of losing control over them. The same information is conveyed to a manager, who is pleased with the employee’s advancement in the workplace. Instead of interfering with the selection process, the leader continues to support the employee and offers helpful criticism.

Relationships with employees

Some supervisors dont build meaningful relationships with employees. Or, if they want their employees to treat them with extraordinary kindness and responsiveness, they may believe that such behavior is a privilege. If they don’t assign them work, these managers may leave their teams. In order to maintain their control over as many people as possible, they prefer to preserve the power dynamics within an organization.

Leaders consider strong relationships with employees critical to success. They don’t take offense if employees maintain their right to privacy regarding their personal lives because they believe that respect is earned by first showing it to others. Leaders seize opportunities to get to know their team members and show an interest in both their professional and personal goals. Leaders want to see their team members advance and take on more responsibility within the company.

A manager might eat in his office during lunchtime with the door closed. While eating in the break room, a manager checks in on the performance of the team.

How to be a supervisor who’s a leader

To ensure that your management style is one of a leader, follow these steps:

1. Review your communication habits

It takes time to develop a leader’s communication skills, and you must be honest about your communication practices. You might find areas for improvement if you:

Being a leader does not imply that your job is stress-free, but it does imply that you do not allow your stress to affect your communication style. Think about how you can control your emotions to maintain positivity and respect even during trying times.

2. Take blame and give credit

Employees who are not in positions of leadership frequently receive incentives to ensure that they are given credit for their work and that coworkers do not unfairly blame them for errors. However, leaders operate under different guidelines. While it’s important for employers to hold employees accountable, when things don’t go as planned, leaders take responsibility for their team’s shortcomings. Leaders give others credit and recognize their contributions when a team succeeds.

3. Build teamwork

Employees often have to worry about defending their own interests when working for non-leaders. Employees feel confident in their roles and put their energy into helping others succeed when there is strong leadership. You have a lot of control over how coworkers interact as a leader. You can encourage employees to recognize and celebrate each other’s strengths rather than fostering competition. You can build teamwork by:

4. Follow through on providing support

A supervisor might make a commitment to provide assistance but fall through on it. Therefore, employees learn the supervisor is unreliable or forgetful. Make sure, as a leader, that you are aware of what is involved when you promise assistance to a team member. By planning your training materials or schedule to make support available when needed, you can make sure that your staff is aware of when and how to ask for help.

5. Train your replacement

Consider your role as training your replacement to help you develop your leadership abilities. If you view every employee as someone who can develop and learn enough to lead your company, you will educate, prepare, and inspire them. Employees value work environments where management actively supports their career advancement, and frequently respond with increased loyalty to the company.

6. Emphasize two-way feedback

Because both are essential for a company’s growth and innovation, leaders are skilled at giving and receiving feedback. Instead of making workers feel like criticism, leaders want them to feel like feedback helps them achieve more. As a result, employees enjoy giving and receiving feedback at work rather than fearing it. However, leaders also collect feedback on their own performance. They view employees as crucial sources of information for determining whether a business is run effectively. Employees often see issues that managers miss, or they may have innovative solutions to persistent issues.


How can I be a leader and not a boss?

A leader supports and mentors you while a boss makes sure you understand your work, according to Christine Macdonald, director of The Hub Events. The main distinction between a leader and a boss, according to her, is that a good leader motivates others and gets them excited about their work.

Why You Should Be a leader not a boss?

Leaders empower their teams, and they do not feel threatened. Being a leader helps other people develop their skills. You can accomplish more in your organization and foster a work environment where employees enjoy coming to work by encouraging collaboration and teamwork. The opposite impact results from the boss mentality.

Can someone be a leader but not manager?

Leadership as a general term is not related to managership. A person’s inherent qualities can make him a leader. For instance, the head of a club, class, welfare organization, social group, etc. As a result, the adage “All managers are leaders, but all leaders are not managers” is accurate. ”.

Is it better to be a leader or a boss?

A leader motivates their team members to innovate, think creatively, and pursue excellence as opposed to a boss who manages them. Each team has a leader, but what people really need is a mentor who will guide them to greatness.

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