Boss Versus Leader - There Are Differences

by Evan Davies, Chief Executive - QLD, VIC & NZ | |   Personal Success
Boss versus leader

A leader can be a boss, but not every boss is a leader. In aspiring to climb to higher levels in business, many people make the mistake of dreaming about becoming 'the boss' rather than becoming a leader.

Although they have nearly identical definitions, there are quite distinct differences between leaders and bosses.

At a recent syndicate meeting, a member quoted Zig Ziglar, the American author, salesperson, and motivational speaker, "Here's the difference between a boss and a leader. You can appoint someone a title, but you can't give them the ability to lead." This led to a rigorous discussion on the differences between a 'boss' and a 'leader'.

But as Ziglar infers, it is necessary to be a leader before you can be an effective 'boss'.

Great leaders share a combination of traits and behaviours:

  • Vision - Leaders have exceptional vision and the ability to convey it to others. Their leadership comes from a strength of purpose.
  • Value - Their leadership reflects that they care. Their view is to deliver value to customers and colleagues alike.
  • Character - Their leadership reflects their integrity.
  • Communication - Real leaders articulate vision and ideas, taking the time to listen to others concerns and thoughts. Honest communication fuels them.
  • Empowerment: Leaders empower, instilling confidence in others and letting them take ownership of their work.
  • Efficiency - Leaders are motivated by the creation of a future. Each goal is significant and actionable, as well as being attainable and fully understood by all. Such leadership predicates the things that matter and is synonymous with high-performance teams and organisations. 
  • Recognition - Leaders appreciate and recognise the team they are working with as well as their efforts. Leaders respect and know how to treat people.

Leadership increases performance. Leadership increases productivity. Leadership increases profit. Good leaders are an invaluable asset to a company, and poor leadership has the potential to destroy it.

Leaders are not a different breed of people. They are not born to lead but prepared to lead. Leadership skills can be taught and learned.


The CEO Institute was founded in 1992. It is now Australia's leading membership organisation for CEOs and senior executives. It provides a forum for over 1,000 Chief Executive members to connect and share their learning with each other. In 2011, The CEO Institute became the world’s first global certification body for CEOs, and in 2013, partnered with UNESCO in support of the "Malala Fund for Girls' Right to Education". In 2014, they began offering their programs globally.
 
The CEO Syndicate is an exclusive peer support network for CEOs. The first meeting of The CEO Syndicate program was held in Melbourne in June 1992. Offices were opened in Adelaide in 1996 and Sydney and Brisbane in 1997, with Perth launching in 2007. In 2015 the New Zealand office opened.
 
The Future CEO program is a certification course designed by the business leaders of today for the business leaders of tomorrow. The first Future CEO meeting was held in Melbourne in May 2012. In 2014, the "Future CEO Scholarship Fund for Women" was established, and continues to be offered today.

Membership of The CEO Institute is by invitation only. To register your interest click enquire.



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