The Difference Between a Boss and a Leader and How It Impacts Corporate Culture

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May 2016
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Author : Pete Peranzo

Humans need leadership. Bring together a random set of people, all on an equal footing, and assign them a task. Soon one of them will rise to take charge of the situation. People look to others to lead the way. It’s a privilege to be in a position where you can influence people and make a positive impact.

However, a boss is not the same as a leader. A leader can be a boss, and a boss can be a leader, but the two terms are not always interchangeable.

Bosses are everywhere – in every organization, in every set-up, corporate or non-corporate, even at homes! Leaders are also everywhere, but not that commonly found. It’s my humble opinion that while bosses have their place, leadership is ultimately what drives collective human achievement.

Leaders inspire. Bosses may just get the task done.

Leaders are vision-centric, while bosses are task-centric.

A typical boss is someone you report to and answer to. There may not be a personal equation with him/her even after years of working under them and the person may leave you indifferent on every level. At worst they may have a nuisance value. It’s not unusual for people to hate their bosses and want to quit their job altogether because of a lack of understanding or the heavy-handedness on part of the superiors.

However, if the boss is also a leader at heart, he or she is likely to take a less autocratic and a more humane approach towards the employees/subordinates.

Leaders are typically concerned about the well-being of those around them and feel responsible for their workforces. They are not so driven by goals and deadlines that they mutate into slave-drivers every now and then with scarce regard for the human cost of it, which is something a boss is prone to do.

Leaders inspire people to rise above mediocrity. They want people to tap into their potential. As Napoleon Bonaparte said, “A leader is a dealer in hope.” A boss, on the other hand, focuses on instructions and rates your performance in a mechanical way.

Bosses are, well, bossy. Leaders are more approachable and have a greater vision.

A bossy person is a control freak and can be unpleasant in the ways he or she executes responsibility. That indicates a lack of faith in their own abilities or that of those under them.

A leader and a boss both need to accomplish certain goals with the help of their workforces, but it’s the way that person in the position of authority utilizes that power that differentiates the two.

A leader is self-aware. A boss is a persona.

Those who lead are not perfect, but they carry on regardless because they are driven by something greater than themselves. They make mistakes but they learn from them. They see themselves as agents of change and are keen on finding those who can work with them in making this possible. It might sound far-fetched, but most leaders do believe they can make the world a better place. That is what ultimately drives leadership.

How we work

Freedom to create

At Imaginovation, we understand it’s important not to babysit our employees, micromanage them, get on their nerves with crazy deadlines, or pick their brains with emails every two minutes. In short, treat them as adults and respect their individuality.

We cherish innovation and we know that doesn’t come about in an atmosphere that stifles people’s creativity with unrealistic expectations and heavy-handedness. Mean or condescending talk has no place in our culture.

Hire the right people and trust them to do their job well

We operate an international workforce virtually. That brings about a number of challenges, but we are able to function as a cohesive unit that understands the ethos and the aspirations of the company. We think that is because we trust our employees to do their best and give them the freedom to carry out tasks the way they see fit. Of course, we have guidelines about how to perform and set goals for the end of each month that we have to achieve, but we do not micro manage every detail.

We hire the best people we can find and place faith in them to do their job well. More often than not, this faith is repaid.

Initiate communication and invite suggestions

We keep communication channels open. Both Pete and I make sure we are available whenever our employees need us. If we sense something is the matter with a certain employee, we don’t lose any time in addressing it to ensure everyone is happy and on the same page.

We welcome suggestions of improving on existing ways. We encourage employees to share their ideas and discuss freely the challenges and obstacles they may face.

This has led to an open culture where we are all able to trust each other and that has had a big positive impact on our productivity.

Keep their well-being at heart

We are also very mindful of the work-life balance that our employees need and we are flexible in how they execute their tasks. That doesn’t mean we have flexible deadlines – what we have are reasonable deadlines. This, along with freedom and a little bit of flexibility on the whole, translates into work getting done on time and employees feeling happy because they are not stressed.

I think of myself as someone who helps bring people around a cause and inspires them to give their best. I value the contribution of each individual and I let them know that. I want my employees to be happy — unhappy employees do not a successful company make, and leading a team of dissatisfied people is certainly no achievement. I may be a boss but I’m not bossy.

Which are you?

 

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