Boss or Leader: Where Do You Fall?

 While it’s certainly possible that a leader can be a boss, it’s not always possible for a boss to be a leader. There are certain characteristics that set a leader a part from others, whether those others include managers, peers, or people in general. While leadership comes natural to some, that doesn’t mean that the rest of us are out of luck.

The CGS Team is filling you in on the key characteristics of a boss and a leader, and sharing how you can better yourself to become to the leader you are destined to be. Like anything in life, changing your mindset and daily routine takes work and effort.

Characteristics of a Boss

First a foremost, a boss is a manager of a person or a group of people. Whether your title actually says manager or not, if people report up to you, then you are a boss. The characteristics listed below are what a boss needs to manage. These characteristics determine if you are a great boss or a terrible boss, depending on how you use them.

1. Communicator – A boss is a communicator. Whether you are communicating assignments, goals, performance, or important practices, communication is a necessity. Effective communication in all aspects is what sets you apart from all of the other bosses.

2. Team Player – A boss is responsible for a team, even if it’s a team of one. Do you take responsibility for your team’s work or do you allow everyone a chance to shine? A boss is automatically a team player, since they manage a team, but if you only have a “me” mentality, you are not using your position to make a difference.

3. Decision Maker – A boss makes decisions on a daily basis. Not everyone can make the right decisions all the time, but being intuitive and adaptive to change play a huge role in making sure the best decision is made for the current situation.


Characteristics of a Leader

A leader is someone who earns respect, inspires others, and thinks long term. Whether you are a boss, teammate or executive, the characteristics listed below are the traits of a leader. These traits go beyond that of a boss. They are imbedded in your personality and can be used to channel greatness within yourself and others.

1. Lead Rather than Rule – A leader knows the difference between leading and ruling people. Leading people into the work that will make a difference, rather than commanding people to get mediocre work done is huge. Inspiring people to do their best work will result in a strong team. Demanding people meet the bare minimum will result in just that, the bare minimum.

2. Motivator – A leader motivates people to step up to the plate. Encouraging top results, challenging to go above and beyond, and inspiring people to do their best are strong characteristics that leaders possess. It’s not easy to get people inspired, but if you can do it, you are on the way to great things.

3. Learn and Teach – A leader knows that they don’t know everything. They are willing to get their hands dirty and learn as much as they can. More importantly, after learning what they can, they teach their team. Being able to share knowledge promotes unity among the team and shows that you care enough to teach others.

A Great Leader vs. a Bad Boss

A boss can be good or bad. A good boss may not be a leader just yet, but they are excelling in areas that can move them into a leader role. A bad boss is hard to come back from, but it’s not impossible with the right mindset and a desire to change. The ten characteristics below, courtesy of Inc. Magazine, can help determine if you having a positive impact on your employees as a leader, or negative impacts as a bad boss.

1. A boss knows it all; a leader is always learning
2. A boss gives answers; a leader seeks solutions.
3. A boss talks more than listens; a leader listens more than talks.
4. A boss directs; a leader coaches.
5. A boss criticizes; a leader encourages.
6. A boss identifies weaknesses; a leader identifies natural gifts.
7. A boss is all about “me;” a leader is all about “we.”
8. A boss places blame; a leader takes accountability.
9. A boss protects her ego; a leader reveals her vulnerability.
10. A boss demands results; a leader inspires performance.

If you notice that you have some of the traits of a bad boss, then start altering the way you see things. Give your team a chance by listening to their needs, encouraging greatness, and making them feel like a together unit.

Do you currently manage people? If so, do you see yourself more as a boss or leader? Even if you aren’t managing anyone, do you notice that you have characteristics of a leader? Share your thoughts and views about what sets a boss and leader out from the crowd! Leave a comment below and let’s chat as a community!

-The CGS Team



2 thoughts on “Boss or Leader: Where Do You Fall?”

  1. I really enjoyed this article! I can definitely relate some of the characteristics to previous managers. I hope to have the traits of a leader and not just a boss! Great read.

  2. I’m a leader! Because of my work history I have always had people reporting to me. So early on in my career I have made it my mission to learn what a good leader is and continue to strive to be a better leader. I think understanding the difference between a leader and a boss is very important. Some people would think of them as one in the same, but they certainly are not.

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