Business · Consultations · Public Relations

The Difference Between A BOSS and A LEADER by Carmen M Colon

I wanted to share this article.  This article defines the difference between being a boss and a leader. I knew very early on, I was a  leader.  Through the years, I always set an example to think out the box, and to model leadership from authenticity, ethics and morals.   In the interim, I have been recognized as a leader.   After years of personal and professional evaluation, I understood my role as a leader to be defined as a ministry calling.

My question to you. Are you a boss or leader?


I spent quite a few years compromising myself for the sake of a paycheck, trying to insure a lifestyle of security and consistency for my sons. I was forced to decide between what I loved to do for a job in a place I despised when I’d left a dozen years earlier and all because I listened to the wrong people. I listened to people who were not going to have to endure the garbage and toxicity in the place where I was being sent. I worked with people I had nothing in common with, most who had checked out years earlier and who reveled in the misery of others.

Why? Why would anyone go to a job where they knew they would hate it and couldn’t expect to have any cohesiveness with the people there? For our children of course. For the paycheck that people kept insisting was the only reason I should have a job. Imagine, going to the people who are supposed to be guiding you and what they do is simply tell you to keep your head down, question nothing and be grateful for that paycheck. Are we being set up to work for a leader or a boss? How can you tell the difference?

Sit down and write your resume. Write about your current position and your every day duties. List the skills needed to complete those tasks. It will either be easy to do or very difficult to do. Now weigh what you’ve done at your job/career over the years you’ve done it. Has doing the same tasks and functions created an expert in those tasks? Have you learned new skills over the years you’ve been there? Do your skills translate well on the page or are you looking at the same skill sets over a long period of time?

A leader learns all they can about their employees. They interact with them on a consistent basis and learn about their strengths and weaknesses, inside as well as outside of the work day. A boss does not. A boss shows up once a month, says a few words and leaves just as effortlessly as the person delivering your breakfast order that morning.

A leader recognizes where more training is needed and provides it. A leader cross trains and motivates the employees to want to produce more,produce better for a team as well as an individual. A leader is like a coach, who can be gruff but who inspires excellence and does not evoke hatred or disrespect.

A leader will nurture their team into a championship team, not out of competition but out of pride for the team and the end results. A boss just wants to get whatever they can from people and not bother to get to know them – not even care. A leader teaches the team to see the best of each other, recognizes more than just result, recognizes effort. A boss insists on obedience and doesn’t care if the employees don’t want to be there or not.

A leader elevates their team with pride and recognition and doesn’t see it as a budget constraint. An employee breakfast goes a long way when you’re sincere and you want amazing results from your people. On the other hand complaining about spending $50 for breakfast for a team becomes petty when it’s obvious you’d rather be anywhere but with the team you are responsible for.

In the eight years I spent working in a place I hated, with people I despised, doing absolutely nothing of value except for when I took my time into my own hands and offered my assistance to others, the only skills I’d learned to add to my resume I had acquired on my own. Many were never promoted because their careers were never cultivated to do more than the clerical shortsighted needs of the current tasks.

So, if you are an amazing clerk then over the years you should be able to list the different programs or processes you’ve learned and mastered, correct. If you’ve been in one place and have done the same thing over, is that skill that you’ve mastered something that other companies are using and want or need right now, today? Is there a new program coming your way? Is your area offering classes in it? Or like me, do you go to the source of that new program and take classes yourself? Do you go out and seek to master it before it arrives? Yes.

Does your resume show an elevation of learned skill-sets or are you stagnant in them?

A leader takes you and all the team members along the journey. A journey that includes projects and tasks and assignments. A leader is there for the long haul, not once a quarter because it’s the least amount of work they can put in. A leader is someone you can respect because they respect you. A leader is someone who works with you to make you a better team member because it’s the team who gets the glory and the accolades, not just them. A leader takes pride and shows off its team, not degrades it by never being there and then complaining and making demands at the last minute. If the person you work for doesn’t do any of these things then you know, you do not work for a leader.

Well, I’ve come close to making that million within the last dozen years and I’d give every cent back to get those years back. Nothing is worth more than your self-respect, your peace of mind and knowing your worth. I would have made more money in those years had I been working in a place that was more about real productivity and real results and not sugar coating core competency keywords or the latest corporate buzzwords from Forbes or Inc. Magazine.

I blame myself of course. It was my career, my life and I blinked. I grinned and bared the brunt of working with people whose idea of excellence were far removed from my own. For every leadership and management course I took and then later taught young people the chasm between my unfortunate reality and the reality outside grew larger. It sickened me, physically, emotionally and in the only way they could threaten me – financially.

Finding myself now, happier than I’ve ever been, sleeping better, enthusiastic about my contributions to others who recognize true passion and pride in one’s work, I realized the difference was in who was placed in charge. Not a leader but a boss. A very bad one.

After having placed myself in the position of leader along the way all those years I was able to not only salvage some of that time wasted but also able to cultivate my skill sets outside. I’ve helped others do more and be more, for themselves as well as the projects we committed ourselves to.

My only regret was listening to those people who didn’t have a clue on how to mentor and guide others. I sought out real experts and leaders in areas of interest to me. I sought out coaches and mentors and enhanced my skillsets all with the anticipation to be more, give more and in the end produce quality service with true purpose. Those people are still doing the same thing and therefore offer nothing new, fresh or current. Don’t become one left behind. Even if you don’t plan on leaving where you work today, if you dislike it, if you don’t think that what you do would command the same or greater pay for the skillsets that you have, then take your own career into your own hands and get the experience outside.

You may be working for a boss but you can become your own leader and lead your way out to a much brighter and better future elsewhere.


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