Despite what some might think, a boss and a leader are not the same thing. Almost anyone can be a boss, but not everyone can be a true and effective leader. Consequently, being the boss doesn’t mean that you’re a leader.

So what’s the difference? Here are a few of the major ones.

Leaders Listen

A leader isn’t a “know it all.” A leader never says “Do it my way. It’s the right way.” Instead, leaders listen to the advice and opinions of their colleagues and take this feedback into account. Doing so lets employees know that they are valued in the organization. It also shows them that it’s important to care about the company and its future success. A leader understands this.

That isn’t to say that a leader doesn’t make his or her own decisions. Of course he or she does. However, rather than simply stating “that’s the way it is” a leader uses the advice that he or she is provided with to deliver an informed decision.

Leaders Facilitate Learning

A leader knows the importance of sharing his or her knowledge. Some bosses don’t want to share what they know. They believe that their knowledge is what gives them power and authority and that sharing this knowledge will weaken their standing in the company. On the other hand, leaders are happy to share their insights and experiences to nurture growth with their employees. They know that making the team stronger benefits them and the organization as a whole.

Leaders also learn. They recognize that nobody knows everything so they spend time learning from books, courses and those around them.

Leaders Motivate

Many times, bosses feel that fear and anger are the only ways to get things done. Employees who work under a boss may continue to do their jobs because they’re afraid of getting punished, yelled at or fired. A leader knows that this isn’t the way to get the most from his or her employees. They don’t succeed by intimidation or fear. They support their employees and make them want to work hard and succeed for their own good, for the leader’s sake and for the sake of the company.

Leaders Inspire

A leader provides an example for his or her employees to follow. By communicating effectively, showing respect and courtesy to employees and working hard, a leader lets employees know what success looks like. He or she inspires employees to better themselves and helps them make the improvements that they need.

The difference between a leader and a boss may seem small, but these differences mean a lot. Organizations achieve more success under leaders than bosses. Employees would rather work for leaders than bosses. This means that more work gets done, more goals are met and more success comes to everyone involved.

Leaders may spend more time and effort nurturing, inspiring and listening to employees than bosses. Leaders may focus on building morale along with striving to reach goals and grow the company. To some people, this may seem like a waste of time and money. However, a leader knows that this is the key to success.

So, what are you, a boss or a leader?

This article is written by Steven Tulman, a keynote speaker, and sales & leadership expert specializing in helping companies grow their revenues through improved sales performance and customer retention.


Recently Published

Key Takeaway: Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work highlights racial inequalities and the lack of representation of racialized people in the media, but also the violence suffered by African Americans. Jean-Michel Basquiat denounced the violence of cartoons, which he saw as a reflection of 20th-century American society. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s painting “Toxic” is an attempt to denounce a stereotypical […]

Top Picks

Good feedback, whether you are on the receiving or giving end, requires an attitude of curiosity and openness. Intentionally creating space for feedbackcan help, but even with the right space, receiving feedback can be really scary. Many organizations have formal systems of feedback in the style of mid-year and annual reviews. And it’s not uncommon for informal continuous […]


I highly recommend reading the McKinsey Global Institute’s new report, “Reskilling China: Transforming The World’s Largest Workforce Into Lifelong Learners”, which focuses on the country’s biggest employment challenge, re-training its workforce and the adoption of practices such as lifelong learning to address the growing digital transformation of its productive fabric. How to transform the country […]

Join our Newsletter

Get our monthly recap with the latest news, articles and resources.


Welcome to Empirics

We are glad you have decided to join our mission of gathering the collective knowledge of Asia!
Join Empirics