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Boss or Leader?
Communication and Leadership Styles

The dictionary has some interesting definitions of the classic ‘boss’.

  1. One who exercises control or authority
  2. One who directs or supervises workers
  3. An official having dictatorial authority over an organization

When you see words like control, dictate, direct and authority it sets an interesting scene for the role of the boss. Of course the modern term of ‘leader’ is used these days rather than boss, but is it just a different word for the same thing? Sadly in many organizations the answer is a resounding yes! The definition of a leader has some commonality with that for the boss and it is true that the leader’s role is also to get results for the organization. The primary difference lies in the methods of getting results. For a modern leader the objective is to influence people to want to achieve the objectives of the organization, not simply to use their authority to push people around. The important word here is ‘influence’. Influencing is best defined as getting people to want to do what you want them to do. The typical ‘boss’ gets people to do things because they want you to do them, and they use their authority to make sure it gets done.

When you get into a position of leading people you have two types of authority. The first is positional; you have moved ‘up’ the organization and have been given the delegated authority. The second source of authority is that which you earn because of your values, skills, beliefs, character, knowledge, ethics, experience and even age. We refer to this as your influencing authority. As a ‘boss’ you are likely to use your delegated authority, as a leader you will mostly use your influencing authority, i.e. that which you have earned. It is ultimately how you use your authority that best determines whether you fit into the boss or leader categories.

ASK Leadership will assist you in identifying where you stand and provide the tools and guidance to help get you into that leadership picture.


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