Be a Leader, Not a Boss

A century has passed, but the debate is still on between leadership and management. Leading and Managing are two different ways of organizing people. Leadership is a way of setting new ideas, direction and vision for a group that they follow. On the other hand, Management controls or directs people and resources in a group according to values or principles that have already been established. The manager is rather tend to use a formal, rational method whilst the leader uses passion and stir emotions. (Laurie J. Mullins, 2013)

People naturally and willingly follow leaders due to their charisma and persona, whereas a manager is followed due to the formal authority assigned to them. As a result, people tend to be more loyal towards leaders rather than managers.

“Leadership is doing the right things; management is doing things right”. – Peter Drucker

Leadership is one of the several faces of management. Often the same people play wear different hats – both leader and manager – at different points in time. Although not essential, it certainly helps a manager if he/she is also a good leader. Equally, leaders do well if they have some degree of management skills because it helps them envision the implementation of their strategic vision.

Self-motivated groups may not need a leader and may find leaders dominating. Alternatively, small teams may find a natural leader emerge based on his/her specialized skills. But this leader may be subordinate to the team manager in the organizational hierarchy, which may lead to conflicts.

In today’s business world, leaders and managers need to take a tough decisions and act quickly. A change is must. We all had bosses (from school teacher to a boss at workplace) who seem to style themselves on military leaders, however treating the workplace as a battle ground is something which few respond well to. When changing your approach towards your team or subordinates, one should not create a culture of fear amongst employees. Mistake are part of an individual growth, as well as a company’s. (Richard Branson, 2011)

Richard Branson is one such leader who has made his fair share of mistakes, while also knowing a thing or two about what it takes to be a real leader, people look up to him. Walk through any of the Virgin offices around the world and you will really struggle to find somebody who has seen the company’s Founder raise his voice when the working gets tough.

“High pressured situations need to be handled, all whilst keeping your eye on the businesses real goal”. – Richard Branson

In his book ‘Like a Virgin’, he desires today’s leader and manager to change their approach towards managing and leading people. He says, when next time someone says to you, ‘Okay, you’re the boss’ as they head for your office door, stop them in their tracks with ‘Not Really, we’re all in this together. So come back here and tell me what you’d be doing with this if you were in my place?’ Good examples of leadership can be infectious. Perhaps, Richard Branson says, the new corporate mantra should be ‘Bosses should be seen and not heard’. (Richard Branson, 2012)

Leadership 1

Image 1: Traditional v/s Collaborative Leaders

“No company, big or small, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”

According to former General Electric CEO, Jack Welch, there are three key words in that quote that all speak to communication: energized, believe, and understand.  A leader simply cannot create an energized team of believers who understand the mission if he or she does not inspire that team through effective communication. (Forbes, 2011) He or she needs to follow 7 steps to INSPIRE the people:

  • Ignite your enthusiasm
  • Navigate the way
  • Sell the benefit
  • Paint a picture
  • Invite participation
  • Reinforce optimism
  • Encourage potential


What leadership boils down to is, people. Whatever your style, whatever your method, you need to believe in yourself, your ideas and your staff. Nobody can be successful alone and you cannot be a great leader without great people to lead. You have to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Nobody respects a leader who doesn’t know how to get his hands dirty and innovate personally. The trick is in striking the right balance between empowering your staff and being an example for them to follow.

Of course, there will be times when strong and decisive leadership is necessary, to make sure the right moves are made. If you place the emphasis on getting the little things right, and address the everyday problems that come up, you can encourage a culture of attention to detail. You can also have a lot of fun with these relatively tiny issues, whether it’s dealing personally with customer’s complaints or surprising your front-line staff with a visit. (Richard Branson, 2014)

So what qualities do you respect in a leader? Do you prefer somebody who is ready and willing to waste in with the rest of the workforce, or perhaps you like to follower a leader who takes a more primary approach? Maybe you are a leader yourself, in which case, you have learned a lesson about managing staff in the correct way in today’s world.



9 thoughts on “Be a Leader, Not a Boss

  1. Good research and nice video. I would like to share with you the difference of management & leadership. management provides control and solves problems. leadership more likely provide motivations.Can you suggest me, what do you believe is the most effective approach to managing the work of subordinates?


    1. Thank you for your comments. As i have stated in my blog, you need to believe in yourself, your ideas and your staff. If you believe in this three perspective, there is no need to approach someone else. All the issues will be resolved automatically.


  2. A very interesting and captivating write-up. The differences between a leader and management, fully explored and well supported. However, I wonder if most leaders could be considered as ethical leaders?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment. As i have explained the role of ethical leader in my first blog. The leaders behaviour and their influencing approach must be right to act ethical. If they succeed in doing that. they have achieved their goal.


  3. Good work harsh.. My suggestion would be not to post an image which brings out the differences rather you could briefly explain it in 2-3 sentences; would have been more interesting to read.
    Other than that its a good article bringing out the distinction between managing and leading.


  4. This blog is excellent especially the flow of your writing. Again, well written with good example. However, it would be even better if you could have included relevant theories and models. Well done.


  5. Good blog post, with good examples. In particular, I liked the reference to Richard Branson ”Mistake are part of an individual growth, as well as a company’s”. It identifies that you can become a good and ethical leader, you are not born one over night and it is because of those experiences that you are able to distinguish the differences and better lead or manage others.


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