How to Be a Leader, Not a Boss: 5 Secrets

How to Be a Leader, Not a Boss: 5 Secrets

Just Creative is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more

This article was contributed by Lauren Adley.

Being a boss and being a leader are two different things and they must be understood. Many people think that they are leaders just because they have been put in charge of a task or an assignment but in reality, they are just bosses.

Differences between a Boss and a Leader

One major difference between a boss and a leader is that while a boss will want his own ideas to be heard and followed at all times, a leader derives pride in seeing that his followers bring up good ideas that can bring about positive changes and growth to the team or organization that he leads.

A leader is one who develops his followers. He is not so particular about how many his followers are but how efficient they are. A boss, on the other hand uses his followers without paying attention to their growth. You can be a leader or a boss. A leader sees himself as a servant, not like the boss that sees himself as a lord. Leaders usually identify themselves with their followers and they see their position as an opportunity to serve and make others better while a boss sees himself as “Lord over all”.

Bosses could be forceful in their approach to solving problems or handling situations while a leader will make you see reasons as to why you have to perform a task in a particular way. While a boss will say “you must do this task this way”, a leader will tell his follower why he should do the task that way and most times will seek his opinion on how it can be done in a better way.

You can choose to be a boss or a leader. Many years ago, Vince Lombardi, the famous football coach said:

Leaders are made, they are not born”.

Therefore, you can start being a leader and start being productive.

5 Secrets to Help You Stop Being a Boss and Start Being a Leader

Bravo Boss

sponsored message

  • Start Listening

Many people just hear others speak because they want to give them a reply as soon as possible but to function excellently as a leader, one must be able to listen in order to extract information and value hidden in the words of the speaker. A leader shouldn’t interrupt when someone is speaking to him and shouldn’t even be thinking of what to say when a person is speaking to him but he must be able to open his mind and get in as much useful information as possible.

Listening is an essential leadership skill to possess. So, if you have not been listening, you have to start now. To listen is not to selectively hear what you want to hear but to appreciate the fact that information is being given out and, in that information, there is value, wisdom and many other good things.

If you have not been a good listener before, you can start learning the art with your friends. Whenever you have a conversation with friends, listen to them and after they are done you can try to summarize in your head. You get better with time.

  • Strive to Inspire Your Followers

When you delegate a task, it is your responsibility as a leader to ensure that you follow through. It is not enough to explain how to go about the task but much more, as a leader you should constantly check up on the followers you have assigned tasks to. Inspire and encourage them sincerely because you want to get the best out of them. Delegate tasks and explain them but don’t stop there, go further by assisting them and making them believe that they have what it takes to deliver a great job.

  • Show Empathy and Genuine Care

sponsored message

Leaders care about their followers. Empathy is an essential attribute of a leader. Empathy is the ability to identify the thoughts and feelings of a person and to understand the point of view of someone. Empathy is one of the striking differences between a boss and a leader. To be a good leader, you have to care about your followers.

As basic as it seems, empathy is very important. Empathy creates a bond between a leader and his followers. It creates an atmosphere where there is no fear.

You might need to go as far as having one-on-one talks with your followers so that they are able to open up to you.  With this, you are able to see things from their own point of view and understand their feelings. It might seem strange to you when you start but once you are able to show your followers that you are ready to reason in line with their feelings, you are many steps away from being a boss.

  • Learn to Treat Everyone Equally, Shun Favoritism

Awesome Boss

Stop the whole “this person always does it better” kind of talks. It doesn’t in any way, boost the morale of anybody. A leader should encourage and boost the morale of his followers, that’s the point of being a leader anyway.

When your followers see that you think one particular person is better than them, they feel you see them as a spare part and they don’t feel encouraged. Everyone is important and everyone can deliver. Your aim is not to make one person in the spotlight, that doesn’t portray anyone as a good leader. The aim of any leader should be to mentor his followers until they reach that level at which he can trust them to do the right things the right way. Instead of choosing favorites, encourage teamwork. Let your followers or team members learn to work together as one and thus the glory or the reward becomes a “we” affair.

Also, don’t try to do things on your own. Being a leader means you have more on your plate. You don’t have to do everything and this is why you have people under you. Learn to delegate tasks to the right set of people and then supervise them.

  • Stop Commanding Your Followers

sponsored message

Giving out different doses of commands is what a boss will do. A boss will give out all sorts of commands both the possible and the impossible and when it doesn’t work out, be begins to nag. To be a leader you must step away from this kind of attitude. Instead of saying “I want this work submitted on Friday” and walking out like the king of the coast, why not ask “How fast can you submit this work?” Or better still, you could say “can I have the work submitted on Friday, so I can meet up with the target for the week?”

Don’t just dose your commands because they really do not help, they only make people work under pressure and this is not very healthy. You might have to give reasons why something has to be done.

Why Do People End Up as Bosses?

Boss Lady

Bosses are normal people and just the same way that leaders are not born but made, bosses also are not born, but they are made that way because of some situations and circumstances they find themselves in. When you see a person you once believed in suddenly start acting like a boss just because he got a promotion or a change in level, you start asking the question “how did he/she end up this way?” These are some of the reasons:

They Have So Much Committed to Them

Yes, they could have so many responsibilities committed to them and sometimes they don’t know how to go about some of these tasks so they begin to forcefully make others do what they are unable to do. When a person gets a change in level or promotion, there are some things that he is introduced into that he has no idea of. This is not because he is not intelligent but because he is new to a whole lot of things. As pressure begins to mount, he ends up getting frustrated and the once good man becomes a boss.

They Have No Leadership Training

You can’t give what you don’t have and you definitely cannot exhibit leadership training that you have not acquired. Like I said earlier, leadership is a skill that has to be learnt. Leadership involves a lot of things like communication, human resource management, time management, good decision-making skills and a lot of others. It is not something that you just decide to step into all of a sudden. Bosses are made when people with no leadership experience start to build their own companies or have their own organization. Because they have no knowledge of what leadership is all about, they fail terribly and then…. Here is your boss!

They Don’t Get the Support They Need

Even a novice, when supported can do things the right way. Many leaders do not get the support they need and so they end up being bossy. Leadership is not an easy task and it is definitely not a “sit at the table and sip a coffee” job. As much as leaders would encourage others, they also need people to support their dreams and their ability to lead. When they don’t get that support, they start to act bossy like “you must do it even if you don’t like it, because I’m your boss”.

They Work with the Wrong Set of People

When someone with a good vision meets with people that are not enthusiastic and are ready to rebel at any time, tell me how he won’t start acting bossy? Many good leaders start to command when they sense rebellion among their team members. They don’t want anything to go wrong since they have invested a lot to reach that point. When rebellion sets in, it can make a good person start acting all bossy, angry and even become a nag master. So, I’ll give you this advice: nip rebellion in the bud as soon as you sense it or else, you might become what you wouldn’t like.

They Have No Mentor

All great leaders have mentors. Leadership is a great task and shouldn’t be done alone. When you have people that you can answer to and can correct you, you are on a path to success but when leadership is attempted alone, it doesn’t always work out well. People become bosses because they don’t have anyone to tell them they are going in the wrong direction and this is what mentoring offers.

Knowing that you have someone that believes in you and watches over you reduces a lot of stress. Most bosses wouldn’t be bosses if only they had mentors that could help them. However, don’t just have a mentor, have a good mentor. Someone that is really reliable and has achieved the kind of results you also want to achieve in life.


If you want to be a leader, you must make sure you are doing just that, because no one wants to work with a boss. If you follow the five secrets listed above, you can be sure you are hundreds of steps away from being a boss. Be the leader you’ve always admired, step out of the bossy zone and let people start experiencing the good in you.

Illustrations by StudioStok on Shutterstock. Lauren Adley is an author who works for writing services australia.

3 thoughts on “How to Be a Leader, Not a Boss: 5 Secrets”

  1. Most people Don’t realize this and they think having authority means they can do whatever they want!
    Everyone knows what a great leader is but they still forget about it and use power and abusive words with their employees.

    Thanks for this great read though

  2. I agree a great leader is also a great listener. Communication is definitely important if you are a leader you have to listen to other ideas and be open minded. Awesome blog by the way. Thanks for sharing! – Richard

  3. Well done. I have worked for managers who went out of their way to brag their direct reports worked FOR them. Conversely, I have worked for managers who always said their direct reports worked WITH them. The words “for” and “with” do not usually carry much emphasis, but in this context they certainly do. I definitely appreciate you putting together this article and I hope it gets the exposure it deserves.

Comments are closed.

[Cyber Monday Deals LIVE!]
[Cyber Monday Deals LIVE!]