As the country celebrated Bosses Day this week, it got me thinking about some of my own bosses over the years. It also got me thinking about leadership – about how some of the best bosses I’ve had not only managed my work but also allowed me to be part of the process. 

But what’s the real difference between a “boss” and a true “leader”?

The Boss

We think of a boss as an authority figure. Someone who makes decisions when they need to be made, including hiring and firing. Someone with a vision of the company, who sees the bigger picture. Who delegates tasks to others and keeps the machinery of the company moving, hopefully smoothly.
All of those things need to happen, but in a top-down culture, a Boss can also neglect some things that leaders never do. Does a Boss:
  • Ask for input before making decisions?
  • Take employees’ needs and desires into account?
  • Welcome feedback?
  • Allow employees to try new strategies that he or she did not think of?
  • Seek out talent who know more than they do in their area of expertise?
I’m sure we all agree that a great Boss does all these things. Sadly, many Bosses do not.
The Leader

A leader takes the role of “boss” a step further. A leader:
  • Knows and respects the knowledge and experience of his or her team and utilizes both
  • Rewards employees for creative solutions
  • Gives credit where credit is due
  • Nurtures talent and helps it to grow deeper
  • Is happiest surrounded by a talented team
One of my favorite sayings is: “If you find that you’re the smartest person in the room, find another room.” No person grows without being challenged and companies don’t grow without true leadership. 
Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative