What’s the Difference Between a Boss and a Leader?
What’s the Difference Between a
Boss and a Leader?
THE WORDS LEADER AND BOSS MAY
HAVE PRETTY SIMILAR DICTIONARY
DEFINITIONS—BUT IN THE BUSINESS
WORLDS, THEIR PRACTICAL
DISTINCTIONS ARE CRUCIAL.
• Just think about their connotations:
– Most of us think of a boss as someone who makes
demands, yells at us when we screw up, and
ultimately has the power to fire us at will.
– A leader, meanwhile, is someone who inspires us,
coaches us, rallies the team, and helps everybody
Consider some of the following:
• Leaders actually lead.
• By contrast, a boss rules, governs, and dictates.
• A boss may sit in his office all day hammering out
policies and telling everyone else what to do.
• But a leader is right there in the fray with the rest
of the team, guiding everyone in the right
• Leaders listen.
• A boss is not known for his acceptance of
feedback or his openness toward
• By contrast, a leader wants to hear what her
team members have to say and to engage
them in the decision-making process.
• Leaders empower.
• A boss might throw his employees into a
project without much training or guidance—
leaving them fearful and insecure.
• A great leader, meanwhile, does everything to
prepare her team members, and to instill
them with confidence in their own abilities
and in the abilities of the team.
• Bosses intimidate.
• Leaders know better than to use fear as a tool
for managing their team members.
• Bosses think of themselves as above the
• A leader, meanwhile, is open to constructive
feedback from team members, and knows
that there is always more she can learn—even
from lower ranking employees!
• Bosses yell at people.
• Leaders ensure that their feedback is
constructive and action-oriented—and that it
is offered in private, not in front of the whole
• Bosses focus on hierarchies, i.e., “I’m above
you and I tell you what to do.”
• Leaders focus on relationships, i.e., “How can
we improve and move forward together?”
The difference, as you can see, is all
So again: Which are you—a boss or a
About Dr. Rick Goodman
• Dr. Rick Goodman CSP is an authority in the world of leadership and
is known as one of the most sought after team building experts in
the United States and internationally.
• He is famous for helping organizations, corporations, and
individuals with systems and strategies that produce increased
profits and productivity without having the challenges of micro
managing the process. Some of Dr. Rick’s clients include AT&T,
Boeing, Cavium Networks, Heineken, IBM, and Hewlett Packard.
• For more information on Rick’s speaking programs, audio
programs, and learning programs, contact (888) 267-6098 or
Rick@rickgoodman.com, or visit www.rickgoodman.com.