At some point in our lives, all of us have had a boss, that someone who tells us what we are supposed to do. Their role is to give us tasks, and make sure those tasks are completed.
A leader stretches their team, and picks them up after failures.
The entire purpose of your boss’ position is to make sure the job gets done. It’s assumed that the people who are reporting to them, are not self-motivated, and will not complete the job, unless there is someone making sure everyone stays on track.
Of course, those who excel in listening to the boss, need less direction or follow up. Eventually, those that do so, tend to end up being the boss, stepping into the role of making sure those around them execute the tasks.
The strict interpretation of the word, “boss,” is found in Merriam Webster’s dictionary and means “a person who exercises control or authority,” often by giving someone orders in a domineering manner.
If you work hard enough, almost anyone can be a boss. As a matter of fact, in many cases the “boss” is appointed or chosen. Often, it is not even earned by merit.
Now let’s look at what it takes to be a leader.
A leader is someone who is respected, provides vision and encourages the team to get better.
Many times, the leader is not even the boss.
Sports teams provide excellent examples of this distinction. The coach may be the boss, the one who calls the shots, but many times he is not the leader of the team.
A specific player steps up and provides the vision, encouragement and leadership that takes the team to the next level. The key to leadership is taking a team on the journey that results in everyone getting better. They identify the talents of each member and push them to the next level.
A leader stretches their team, picks them up after failures, and helps everyone understand how to make corrections, so to avoid failure in the future, while still moving the team toward the ultimate vision and goal.
One day, a very influential leader in my life said to me, “If you plan to stay a part of this organization, you must have the ability to replicate yourself.” That simple statement provided me with the vision that the life of this organization is volunteers, teaching and bringing up new talent to fill in where necessary.
It also helped me realize that I had my head in the weeds. I wasn’t developing my leadership talent. I realized I was just managing my situation.
In doing so, I was overwhelmed by my tasks, overworking myself and burning out the team. I needed to step back, look at where we were going, understand the goal and start utilizing my God-given gifts of identifying talent, while helping others be better at what they do.
I needed to strive to be more of a leader and less of a boss.
As you can see, there is a clear difference between a boss and a leader.
President Theodore Roosevelt said, “People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.”
Essentially a boss has a task-oriented focus. They generally just want to hit the mark.
A leader innovates, ideates and provides a vision that pushes the team to get better. Leaders are idea people. They provide ideas and different ways of accomplishing a task.
A boss will not want to deviate from the prior laid-out plan. They will want to execute as directed, even when they know it doesn’t work or the plan has problems. A boss may tend to be more negative in his direction, feedback and vision of the issue or task.
A leader will be positive, uplifting, always pushing forward. When a road block presents itself, a leader will inspire the team to overcome the road block. Leaders are excellent at assessing each member’s talent, strengths, weaknesses and abilities.
A boss assumes everyone is equal, and their job is to make them do the task. As you can see, leaders are the positive influence on the team.
I’m not saying we should always expect to be great.
Challenges, disappointments, failures and setbacks are a normal part of life. However, a leader will remain positive. They are the ones that say, “we have an issue, let us, as a team, figure it out and resolve this problem.”
When you work for a church, every weekend there is a challenge or an obstacle. If you want to be a better technician, musician or pastor, your goal should be to always reflect a positive attitude and leadership qualities. Even if, and especially when, you are not in the role of the decision-maker.
No matter your job, always be a leader that instructs, teaches and counsels with a loving eye. (Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My loving eye on you.”) Doing this will allow you to progress in your role and be trusted with more responsibility.