Boss or Leader - or How to Lead a Team, Not Just Manage It

The boss and leader have one main task - to lead a group of workers toward a specific goal. They give orders and control the progress of the work. On the surface, it seems that these are synonyms to describe the same person, but is this really the case? They perform the same activity, which is directing people, but there is a huge difference in the method used to do so. At this point the question may arise: is my boss also my leader? In theory, the answer may seem obvious, after all, both are responsible for leading the team and giving orders. But are they really?

"I" versus "we"

The very term "boss" arouses negative connotations, and in the imagination of many people this is a manager who appears only to give orders, expecting them to be carried out ruthlessly, otherwise his subordinates will arouse his displeasure. He even treats them objectively, as tools through which he will be the one to achieve success. A leader also distributes the tasks necessary to be completed, but tries to get to know his colleagues, approaching each of them individually, matching the duties to the skills and interests of the team. He cares about the common result of the work and the satisfaction of each member of the group. The former will say "act," while the latter will say "let's act." The boss sometimes emphasizes the distance separating him from his employees, for example, by rarely appearing among them and taking no interest in them as people outside the professional sphere. The leader shows them that he does not treat anyone down, staying with the team, building relationships and a good atmosphere of joint motivation and work.

"Fear" versus "awe"

The way authority is built also distinguishes between a boss and a leader. The former acquires it through his position and the authority he holds, while the latter acquires it through the attitude he represents, showing his knowledge, experience and ability to motivate others and work in a group. A boss often intimidates his subordinates by taking advantage of his position. A leader, on the other hand, is ready to help, listen and understand the other person. According to him, each co-worker must be approached individually, so he understands that in order to achieve success, one must show respect, accept difference and be able to use diverse potential.

"Control" versus "freedom"

The boss is characterized by constantly controlling his employees and influencing how they perform their tasks. Often the reason for this behavior is distrust, which in turn stems from the distance he builds between himself and his team. All that matters is the reproductive execution of orders according to the supervisor's notion. The leader, on the other hand, relies on the creativity of his co-workers and tries to motivate them to take their own initiatives while giving them the opportunity to demonstrate their skills. He believes that in this way they will achieve success and even better results. He knows how to praise his employees, but is also not afraid to issue constructive criticism to show them the mistakes they are making.

Leader in practice

One of Poland's youngest millionaires and the owner of Codewise, a start-up that sells Internet marketing solutions, has undoubtedly achieved success in the business world. It turns out that he has gained a lot not only through diligence and perseverance, but also through proper management of people. We are talking about Robert Gryn, who at the age of 30 was among the 100 richest Poles according to Forbes magazine in 2017. The activities of his company are closely related to programming, but as he says, he does not have such IT skills. Therefore, from the very beginning of building the structures of his start-up, he took care to select people with the right qualifications for the right positions. He wanted each of his employees to feel comfortable doing what they love, and at the same time for Codewise to grow more and more rapidly. Now he doesn't do recruiting himself, but he reiterates that a company is made up of people, so it's important to hire good people at the very beginning, who will hire even better ones. Robert's dream is to create the kind of work atmosphere he himself would like to be in. Accordingly, he invests in his employees, providing them with a gym, a yoga and martial arts studio and a sauna. The young leader has many back problems due to the many hours he spends at the computer. For this reason, he decided to work standing up and, with the goal of his employees' health, to recommend this type of work to them. All offices in Codewise have standing use. They have also created a map of office space in the popular Counter-Strike game, where every Friday employees can relax together while playing together. According to the entrepreneur, there is nothing harder than firing an employee, and in an interview he said that even breaking up with a girlfriend is easier for him than dissolving a partnership.

A leader - anyone can be one

No one is born a perfect leader. A certain group of people have a predisposition for this, but many aspects can be learned through accumulated experience. It is important to be aware of one's own strengths and weaknesses and to have the self-discipline to develop the right qualities of a leader. Then it is possible to transform from an apodictic boss to a caring leader's people.

Catherine Rodak

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