Be a Boss , Not a leader

Last updated 10 Jun 2014 . 3 min read

Swati Nitin Gupta

Being a boss is easy – who doesn’t know how to be bossy? A leader, on the other hand, must inspire trust, confidence and loyalty. An effective leader can take his team to great heights – She inspires juniors to be enthusiastic about their work and work-life balance. The word boss often has negative connotations, but a leader always resonates positively. What differentiates a boss from a leader?

A leader instructs juniors. A leader will show you the path if you don’t know the way. She will demonstrate how to go about things if you don’t know how to do a certain task. A boss, on the other hand, thrives on control and will bark at you if you don’t know how to do a particular thing.

A leader depends on support. A true leader always emphasises the fact that she needs the goodwill of subordinates to make a venture successful. A boss will strive to show that he is the authority and there is nothing and no one beyond her.

A leader generates enthusiasm. You are a leader if you generate enthusiasm and juniors are eager to come to work, are proactive and are keen to start work. For a boss, subordinates are often working under fear – be it of deadlines or chatting with others.

A leader encourages communication. Communication is a powerful tool in today’s corporate culture and a true leader understands and encourages it. She emphasises the power of communication, between herself and subordinates, among the office staff and between team managers and members.

A leader always says ‘We’. For a leader, the team and their opinions matter a lot. When she takes up a new project, she’ll always think and say we, we can do it, we are able, and so on. A boss tends to exercise authority and over-delegate work.

A leader will fix problems. Imagine a scenario where there is a problem and your supervisor is shouting and attempting to find someone the blame can be pinned on. Imagine another situation where the same problem exists but the supervisor, along with team members, is trying to find a solution to the problem. The latter is a leader, she’s the one whose aim is to grow and help others/the company grow.

A leader shows how she wants things done. A true leader is the person who can demonstrate how a certain task has to be done, as compared to a boss. A boss knows how she wants things done and how they should be done, but won’t reveal them – she thinks that makes her lose control.

A leader will always give credit. You will never find a leader taking all credit for all the successful deals his company has closed. She will always be modest and pass the buck around – “But for my team, this would not have been possible” is what you can expect her to say.

Which one are you? If a boss, isn’t it time you switched to leadership?

Swati Nitin Gupta, mother to a five-year-old preschooler, writes on lifestyle, fashion, interiors, trends, office culture, and women and child-related issues. Find her at or


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SHEROES - lives and stories of women we are and we want to be. Connecting the dots. Moving the needle. Also world's largest community of women, based out of India. Meet us at @SHEROESIndia

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