Everyone can be a boss, but not everyone can be a leader. Being a boss is easy: one simply needs to outrank the guy beside them. Being a leader, on the other hand, takes a lot of work, dedication, character, and accountability. It demands responsibility, empathy, and a knack for managing people.
People like Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs,Peter Loftin, Oprah, Ghandi, Mark Zuckerberg, and Martha Stewart have all made their mark on the world as great leaders. While each of them approach leadership differently, one thing stays constant: people are willing to follow them.
A leader isn’t necessarily the most intelligent or most experienced person in the room. In fact, a leader doesn’t even need to be the highest ranked person in the room. A leader simply needs to be someone others are willing to follow. It could be the CEO, a janitor, a manager, a staff member, or even you.
Few are great leaders from the get-go. Developing your own unique leadership style takes work and dedication. That said, the key is knowing where to start, and that means approaching your role as a leader, not a boss.
Here are some of the differences between the two:
- Leaders Lead, Bosses Rule
Leaders are there when it counts. Like an army commandant leading his troops in battle, a leader takes charge from the frontline. A boss, on the other hand, barks orders without taking action, often leaving his/her team to do the dirty work.
Lesson: Lead by example, not words.
- Leaders Inspire, Bosses Intimidate
Bad bosses are the #1 cause of unhappiness in the workplace. They stress out and wear down employees, which, ultimately, kills productivity and affects employee well-being. Everything about them reeks fear and intimidation–like evil stepmothers.
Leaders make the workplace better by inspiring and motivating others. They acknowledge each person’s role and capabilities while providing the perfect environment for everyone to thrive. Great leaders get the most out of people because they encourage instead of discourage those around them.
The telecom mogul Peter Loftin was once quoted: “I like being successful. Giving back is only a part of that”. For a true leader, success includes helping others along the way.
Lesson: Inspire action using motivation, not fear.
- Leaders Dialogue, Bosses Dictate
Bosses stifle growth because they leave little room for creativity. Instead of allowing others to think independently, they dictate what and how things should be done, which eventually results in passivity and disengagement.
Leaders converse with others, allowing each person to share ideas and contribute in a larger way. This makes each team member feel more significant and, as an effect, more engaged throughout each task.
Lesson: Get the most out of others by encouraging them to speak up.
Being a good leader is more about what’s in your head and heart than what’s written on your resume. Being placed in a superior position does not automatically make you a leader. Leadership, like respect, is very much earned. Instead of focusing on what you can get out of a position, see how you can truly make a positive impact for others around you.