Difference between a Boss and a leader

Published On: January 29, 2024

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“A boss has his or her title, while a leader has the people’s trust.”

– John C. Maxwell

The two terms, boss and leader, are most often used interchangeably in the workplace. The two carry similar implications but have vast levels of difference. In any organization, be it small or big sized, there is a manager, holding high authority, responsible for running the organization and leading the company, and its people to meet the goals of the organization. The style of leadership and management is where the two terms, boss and leader come into play.

Difference between boss and leader

  • A boss is handed over the responsibility of making crucial decisions that further affect the team and the workings of the organization. They don’t always take decisions based on what the majority of the team wants, instead make choices according to what they think is right. This leads to a lack of communication, creativity, and autonomy among the team members. On the other hand, a leader embraces a more empowering and participative environment, considering the opinions of all the employees before making a decision. This promotes a feeling of belongingness towards the organization.
  • A boss exercises an authoritative kind of control wherein they tend to enforce strict rules and regulations over the employees. This type of style demotivates the employees from giving their best and does not boost a healthy working environment. A leader takes into account the wellbeing of the employees, fosters the feeling of team spirit, and encourages them to work towards their goals. Employees working under this kind of leadership are seen to be more appreciative of their workplace.
  • In terms of communication, a boss uses a top to down type of approach wherein they simply dictate the tasks to the employees without seeking their input. Here, communication is always one way and the employees often feel neglected. A leader emphasizes the importance of free and open communication. They take inputs from each of the employees and nurture a transparent working environment where every voice is heard.
  • A boss focuses more on meeting targets. Due to this, they neglect the workload put on the employees and prioritize results over people whereas, a leader prioritizes their employees over meeting targets. They believe that if the employee is satisfied and happy, it will automatically result in increase in productivity and the targets will be met.
  • Due to the attributes an authoritative boss holds, it creates a pessimistic and dull working environment, with employees having low morale, being less productive, and feeling unmotivated to work. A leader on the other hand creates a positive and uplifting work environment wherein all the employees feel encouraged, energised, and productive to work.

Examples of leaders

  • Satya Nadella, who is the CEO of Microsoft, is gravely recognized for his leadership style. Under his guidance, the company has embraced cloud computing and also focuses on embracing corporate culture. His leadership style is more growth-oriented, inclusive, and inculcating innovation.
  • Mary Barra, who is the CEO of General Motors, was the first female CEO of a huge automaker organization. She is well known for her tactical vision, customer-centric motto, transparency towards employees, and commitment to the organization.


To conclude, a boss is someone who holds a certain position and authority in an organization. But a leader can be anyone, at any position, who motivates the team towards fulfilling organizational goals. While a boss is someone who takes total control and authority, a leader relies on open communication, motivating the team toward success. At the end of the day, ultimately it is a leader who wins the hearts of the employees and greatly impacts the organization.

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