The Break Room

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Boss/Manager vs. Leader

Apr 29, 2016, 13:11 PM by Kathleen Kontos

Landing that management role may make you the boss, but it doesn't automatically make you a leader. There's a distinct difference between the stereotypical 'boss' and the manager who is a leader to their team. Grow your department into a successful team by learning how to be a leader as well as a manager by adapting these practices.

Taking/Giving Credit

An easy way to tell someone who is just a manager from someone who is a leader is to see how they handle giving credit to others. Someone who is just a boss will often times keep all the credit for themselves, even if their employees are owed some of the credit. On the other hand, a leader will give credit where credit is due and work to lift up their team. Distinguish yourself as a leader, instead of just a manager, by giving your team credit and recognizing their accomplishments.


Holding yourself accountable for your teams short comings is a sure fire way to establish yourself as a leader over a manager. By being accountable and not passing the blame onto others, you will establish yourself as a leader and gain the respect of your team. Accountability is a two way street though, so you need to hold yourself accountable for your mistakes along with your team’s mistakes. The biggest thing to remember is to do this in a way that will create a productive working environment (think constructive criticism over child-like punishments).

Be a Coach

A large difference between a manager and a leader is how they communicate their expectations to their staff and the relationship they have.  Using your management power to be a coach to your team will not only help you retain great talent, but will also help your team be more successful. Make sure you know what everyone's strengths are and play to those, as well as being a mentor and offering guidance to them. Read more of our tips on being a coach here.

Developing Staff

A manager wants their team to get the job done to the standards they expect. A leader not only wants to see their team accomplish this, but also grow within their career and professional development. Being a mentor to your employees is a great way to help them in their professional development and to build a professional relationship with them. Showing that you want your team to achieve their professional goals will not only improve your working relationship, but can help you retain those great employees.

Transitioning from being just a boss to being a leader can be difficult, but will pay off in the long run. How did you make the transition easier?

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