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Boss Vs Leader - What is the difference?

Here we are to describe the difference between a boss and a leader

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What separates a leader from a boss?

Here we are to describe the difference between a boss and a leader. The words are sometimes confused together to be used interchangeably which is incorrect! A boss is a position like a manager, director, or team leader who manages work done by others and is result-oriented.

Whereas, a leader is an inspirational, transformational, and motivating person who creates within people the mindsets of positive work for the collective good of all creating a win-win situation.

Confusion between a Boss and a Leader by Dictionaries!

Different dictionaries call boss and leader similar words using the following near-to-similar or related meanings for both.

The words are directress, director, manager, team-lead, commander, administrator, headman, helmsman, kingpin, honcho, commander, captain, boss, supervisor, superior, ruler, governor, sovereign, principal, dominator, head, chief, counselor, dignitary, dean, precursor, pioneer, etc.

The collection of words here is given to the readers to know that the concepts are entirely different but in words, both are relative or near to similar!

The choice is yours!

Both the leader and the boss operate to produce results, therefore the choice is yours what you want to be, a leader or a boss, in other words, admired or un-wanted, respectively!

But how? The following reading helps you understand the characteristics of both amidst today’s business turbulence across the global village.

What separates a leader from a boss? difference in characteristics

The following are the commonly observed characteristics of bosses in business organizations:

A boss is Authoritative whereas a leader accepts responsibility

A boss is an authoritative employee appointed as head or director to get work done by others to produce results for the organization. Bosses tell employees what to do.

Whereas, A good leader is a person who accepts responsibility for their own work and that of team members, to complete the tasks together as a team. Leaders guide what to do how and why.

The boss holds others accountable, and leaders possess and create self-accountability

You may observe that if there is a success, not all the bosses encourage their teams, and instead, they receive rewards themselves. Also, bosses held others accountable.

On the other hand, leaders understand and always inspire others converting ordinary people to perform extraordinarily with vigor. A leader is a receiver of novelty ideas feels accountable and creates self-accountability within people.

Bosses usually follow I know all stances and leaders are open to criticism

I know all stance is often known as a bossy step to create pressure and get work done from subordinates. Bosses mostly possess this sort of behavior. Whereas, true leaders remain open to constructive criticism and feedback for improvement purposes.

Bosses may be Micro-managers, and leaders work together and delegate authority

Bosses may never stop blaming attitude. Fault-finding and micro-management (micro-management: the boss is involved and monitoring every single activity closely which sometimes is troublesome for the subordinates) are the characteristics seen in bosses mostly. They criticize for the sake of performance improvement. Bosses focus on producing results and outcomes.

Great Leaders motivate and feel proud to work together with their team workers, they together complete the tasks and celebrate together as well. Leaders delegate authority with the responsibility that encourages employees’ willingness to work better than before.

Bosses solve the problems and leaders teach to avoid problems

Bosses listen to employees to solve their problems. On the contrary, leaders guide employees the ways to avoid problems.

Bosses are usually focused on short-term targets’ achievements and a leader is a visionary person

Bosses may focus on short-term targets’ completion and might see mere near future. Leaders on the other hand build legacy, they see the far future of organizations.

Bosses get work done and leaders empower people

Bosses often get work done by their subordinates whereas people’s empowerment is the leaders’ slogan and the building up of people is the key to a leader’s success. A leader focuses on people to motivate them to produce positive results on their own.

Bosses run the show through Command and control and one-way communication, whereas Leaders execute two-way Communication

Bosses might have a superior mindset over team members. S/he speaks up and leads the team with directives: in other words, it is known as the command and the control. They often possess competitive mindsets. Bosses see “what is right” at this time. Mostly one-way communication takes place when bosses communicate with subordinates or team members.

Contrary to this, two-way communication is the hallmark when it comes to leadership. Leaders listen to people; the connection is made amongst the people, and between the people and a leader, to talk openly.

Bosses have a bureaucratic style and coercive measures, whereas leaders might create an Organic culture

Bosses may make organizations mechanistic in nature by posing a bureaucratic style. Coercion (change by force) is sometimes taken up as an action plan by the bosses as unavoidable. Leaders create organic organizational culture and design where everyone is allowed to express differences of opinion.


When it is said about respect, bosses might be given respect due to fear. And, leaders are respected for their affection, they earn respect for their visionary and people-centered strategies.

What Research has to share with us about the difference between a boss and a leader

The year 2021 Research uncovers the facts that:

  • The bosses point out who is wrong and try to get it done rightly, whereas the leaders try to rectify what is wrong
  • Bosses get authority by appointment but the leaders get the same by the will of the people due to the inspirational behavior of the leader
  • Bosses tell more and listen less, and the leaders speak but listen to others