Boss or Leader: Which will you be?


A boss expects, commands and demands. A leader inspires, teaches and motivates.

A boss explains a task until workers appear to understand. A leader explains tasks in ways that build passion and commitment, exhorting people to do their best.

A boss will solve problems when asked. A leader shows people how to find solutions for themselves.

A boss criticizes, and maybe even punishes, poor performance. A leader gets to know the strengths and weaknesses of employees, and then works with them over time to build up their strengths and patch up their weaknesses.

A boss is “always right.” A leader invites feedback, is willing to acknowledge mistakes and remains open to asking people what they need to do their best work. When things go wrong, a boss is quick to cast blame on others. A leader stands up, takes the responsibility and uses the mistake as a teaching tool.

A boss often micromanages, sometimes to the point of obsessing over the tiniest details. A leader empowers people, guiding them toward greater responsibilities and helping them become increasingly more autonomous and self-confident.

Finally, a boss focuses on “me.” A leader focuses on “we.” Leaders know that a win for one person is a win for all, and that collaboration is the single best way to get there. In general, bosses talk more than they listen, and leaders listen more than they talk.

446A0086-FF67-4CF2-9D6E-80E1A23A4FD0Karen Burns’ words have inspired me for years to put my best professional foot forward. Burns is one of the first columnist I read when I get my daily paper.

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3 Responses to Boss or Leader: Which will you be?

  1. I hope I was a leader – which is why I hit the brick ceiling when it came to higher promotion – went freelance and never looked back

    Liked by 2 people

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