Boss or leader? The force of habit and the culture that still persists in work relationships make us use both terms as synonyms. We even tend to refer to the director of the department or the owner of a company as “boss”, although their way of interacting is different from that of the inflexible individual who long ago directed work groups by force of shouts and humiliations.
However, technological development and the evolution in the perception of labor relations in recent decades have led to a paradigm shift. Little by little, the concepts of leader and boss grew apart, more for reasons of vision regarding the management of personnel than for semantic reasons. Therefore, the question in our title is addressed to you. And to know if you are one or the other or which of them you want to be, here we offer you some reflections.
Boss Or Leader? Who Is Who?
To better explain it, we will describe two hypothetical characters to illustrate the differences between them and conclude by defining which one is boss or leader . At first, we will talk about Roberto, an employee at a supermarket chain branch, who was promoted to plant manager. The superiors thought that his abilities to direct and give orders to his companions justified the promotion. Therefore, they demanded that the staff in charge of him be more efficient in the distribution and organization of merchandise on the shelves.
Without a doubt, Roberto appealed to his authority , earned by force of bad character and mistrust of his subordinates. He assembled his team, assigned them corridors and unceremoniously set them the task of tidying up the genre in a very unreasonable amount of time. He didn’t even give a hint of how to achieve it, he didn’t propose ideas and much less listen to suggestions from the team.
He even threatened to admonish those who did not comply with the mandate. As if that were not enough, on his supervision rounds he did not hesitate to use disrespectful language to anyone who was caught doing his homework slowly or in a manner inconsistent with his instructions. Little did he care if there were customers or other colleagues around.
During the first days, the objectives were met without exceeding expectations. However, Roberto rejoiced in the achievements as if they were his alone and did not recognize the efforts of his subordinates. They ended the day exhausted and complaining about the plant manager’s abuse. Of course, the efficiency of the department began to plummet and Roberto was only looking for blame.
There came a time when the high turnover of people in his area set off the alarms of the Human Resources department.
Boss Or Leader? Boss’s Weapons
By now, you will know which of our fictional characters has attitudes of boss or leader . Obviously, Roberto was the typical boss who bases his effectiveness on the form of mandates and the imposition of orders. He gave no explanations and assumed that the subordinates knew how to do the job. He, too, could not communicate in any other way than being authoritarian, coercive, and even insulting to the workers. Those were his weapons. For this reason, his employees did not dare to ask him for help nor did they trust him.
If there were problems, Roberto did not look for solutions, he looked for blame. And the few achievements obtained he considered his own without attributing at least some of the success to the collaborators. It is not surprising that the work environment generated by his attitude was complicated.
The Leader’s Skills
While Elena assumes many of the attitudes of a good leader. To begin with, she leads a group of people and manages to align her goals with those of the company. Ella y ella achieves this by communicating effectively with collaborators, integrating them, motivating them and positively influencing them. People like Elena contribute to the productivity of the companies where they work, but they also help workers grow professionally and personally.
This example allows us to list a series of soft skills that you must develop if you want to be a leader and not a boss:
- Communication. Communication skills are essential in managing work teams. Therefore, you must be assertive when expressing objectives, assessments and corrections. It is also essential to be accessible to ensure fluid communication with all the members of your team and to be able to take advantage of the potential of their contributions .
- Empathy. In fact, it would be very difficult to know why some of your colleagues feel demotivated if you don’t put yourself in their shoes. Empathy is the ability to understand the views and behavior of others, without necessarily agreeing with them. Consequently, being empathetic helps you to objectively understand the situation of your collaborators to offer them relevant solutions . At the same time, it is valuable for resolving conflicts objectively.
- Proactivity. If as part of the team you need to be proactive , as a leader you must be even more so. Indeed, innovating and promoting innovation among the members of the group is a fundamental condition of contemporary leadership . This ability makes it easier to find solutions to problems and not to be pigeonholed in the search for culprits.
Other Essential Soft Skills For The Leader
- Motivation. To this extent, the ability to motivate a work team is essential, on which the scope of success will depend, to a great extent . Knowing how to encourage the group before, during and after the execution of a project increases the quality of the work and consolidates the team spirit.
- Teamwork. Actually, leading a team makes you part of it. You are one more worker and you must prove it by doing your work together with your colleagues and supporting them when they need it. In this same line, you must be humble enough to ask them for help when you do not have the solution to an eventuality.
- Time management. As the director of a project , you need to establish reasonable times for the fulfillment of the tasks, taking into account the demands of the same. As well as the capabilities of your collaborators and the times to review and correct. Of course, you have to clearly communicate these times to the team.
Also Read: 5 Advantages Of Teamwork
Boss Or Leader? You Choose!
So far we have analyzed in a didactic way the differences between exercising command of a group only to achieve objectives as a leader or leading it in an intelligent way to grow together with its members. Indeed, being boss or leader is your decision. For the former, you just have to be like Roberto. Instead, to be a good leader, you must learn and develop the skills we just discussed, along with others like team motivation , effective communication, and empathy. These recommendations will create a good work environment while increasing the productivity of workers .