The Difference Between a Leader and a Boss

For a while, I thought that leader and boss were two interchangeable words. It was until my training in CAT (and later in ROTC) that I became acquainted with the significant difference between the two.

Inspire employees vs. Drive employees

A true leader sets a good example to his/her subordinates. They follow a leader out of respect and inspiration, hoping someday they can follow his/her footsteps. Meanwhile, a boss uses force to make people move according to that person’s will. People follow him/her out of fear.

“A leader leads by example, not by force” – Sun Tzu

Cares for your well-being vs. Cares for your productivity level

A leader ensures that team’s goals are achieved without sacrificing the welfare  of his/her team members. A leader recognizes that the members have their needs, not pushing them to the point of disrupting their well-being. A boss? Well, all he/she cares about is the team’s output regardless of a member’s condition or situation. A boss doesn’t care if each of them has to sacrifice time, resources, and energy if that’s what it takes to get the job done.

Says “We” vs. Says “I”

A leader works as part of the team and not just a mere commander or navigator. A leader takes pride on what the collective body had accomplished and does not take the credit for himself/herself. A boss, greedily accepts all compliments for his/her namesake and plays the blame game for each team’s mistake.

Asks vs. Orders

The leader recognizes the capability of the team to formulate solutions and ask them for recommendations. He/she gives enough freedom to the team to choose what track to take in order to resolve issues or complete a goal and not base it to his/her preference alone. A boss plainly gives a decision after hearing the problem.

Show How It’s Done vs. Know How It’s Done

A leader passes his/her valuable knowledge to the team members. A leader does not fear of being surpassed by sharing wisdom among the team since his/her primary goal is to train them so that one day, they become good leaders themselves. A boss may brag about achievements but never teaches the members on how it’s done. The boss sees everyone as a threat to his/her position, so he keeps all the information to himself/herself.

Makes Work a Game vs. Makes Work a Drudgery

A leader motivates the entire team to fulfill a common goal and treats each task as a challenge, an opportunity for each member to step up and continuously improve. A boss, with force as his/her sole tool, tends to inflict suffering  among the team members. The journey towards this goal is agonizing and in the end, all the members feel exhausted instead of fulfilled.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. ” – John Quincy Adams

Any organization, country or collective body needs a good leader in order for it to succeed. It needs more than orders; it needs actions. It needs more than authority; it needs responsibility.

I hope that this election, you voted for who you think are the people that will lead us to a more progressive and responsibly-free country. Kudos to all of you who voted and participated to create a change. You can be a leader by example. (~^_^)~

photos courtesy of:,


2 comments on “The Difference Between a Leader and a Boss

  1. Bea says:

    Honestly, though:
    “Cares for your well-being vs. Cares for your productivity level”

    These two are not mutually exclusive. If you really care about the productivity level of your employees, you must also care about their well-being. Think of it as maintenance. If you care about the well-being of your employees, you know that it results to higher productivity level.

    • iron59 says:

      Point taken. It’s just that, a boss has a different (and usually close-minded) perspective on how to achieve productivity, that is, for his/her subordinates to work like hell.

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