Boss vs. Leader

Executives smiling during conference

A boss versus a leader — Is there a difference? A boss often motivates through fear, uses, “I,” and gives commands. A leader often motivates through enthusiasm, uses, “We,” and asks for tasks to be completed. You might be thinking, “Do I work for a boss or a leader,” or, “Am I a boss or a leader?” To truly be a leader, one must take conscious action to teach and grow with their team. They must invite ideas, questions and conversation. A leader listens and coaches.

“I think everyone has worked for a boss and we are lucky to work with leaders at Vaco,” said Clif Freeman, Partner at Vaco Louisville. “I want to educate candidates who are struggling at work or beginning their search. I want them to know that there is a clear difference between a boss and a leader.”

How does your team interact with you? Are they open with mistakes and questions or are they scared to approach you? Do they ask for advice and seek constructive criticism, or do you have to approach them first? Take a step back and assess your role. If there is a lack of trust, team spirit and/or transparency among your office, it might be time to re-think your leadership style.

Being a boss or a leader can make all the difference between a negative or positive work environment, a lagging room versus an energetic one, and a quiet versus communicative team. People will do their best work if they feel encouraged, free to express their thoughts and know it’s OK to fail if it leads to growth.

Are you a boss or a leader?


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