Are you a Leader or a Boss?

"Only three things happen naturally in organizaitons: friction, confusion, and underperformance. Everything else requires leadership." - Peter Drucker

Mr. Drucker's statement has rung true in study after study and organization after organization. Research published by The Ken Blanchard Companies has shown the average organization is 50% as productive as it should be, due to poor leadership practices. 

So, what can we do to make sure our organizations are performing optimally and that we, as managers, are part of the solution rather than the problem? In this article, we will cover 3 key differentiators between bosses and leaders. 

Leader Vs. Boss - Three Differentiators

1.) Self Awareness

A recent study of CEOs by best-selling author and psychologist Ian Morgan Cron, found that the highest predictor of success is knowing your own strengths and weaknesses. 

Developing self-awareness is an essential step in any true leader. Every person is predisposed to character traits and reactions. The individual that does not leave themselves to their natural tendencies but works to understand and cultivate desirable leadership qualities will not only promote their own success but the success of any organization they lead.

If you have never taken a personality quiz, the online program Crystal is a great free resource. Also, use its powerful feature allowing other individuals to take the personality quiz and overlay it with your own to see tips for collaboration between your different personality types. 

2.) Self Leadership

It is a powerful thing to know oneself but is another to begin the difficult process of correcting undesirable habits and promoting new healthier leadership traits.

Think back to the best boss you have had. Even if you cannot define exactly what made them great, ask yourself would you ever say of this individual  "he or she was just so intimidating and when they yelled at me it was just so inspirational"?

Likely your answer to the above is no. As leaders we are tested daily by our work environment and those we lead. How often we fall short and revert to our baser-selves can be demotivating but if we are not actively working to self-correct we will struggle with the boss persona forever.

Being a leader will require continued discipline and self-leadership in order to avoid the pitfalls that are most likely to make you the nightmare boss instead of the ideal leader that previously came to your mind.

3.)  Self Sacrificing 

Self-sacrificing is the understanding of leaders that success is not measured by any individual but the whole of their teams/organization. As stated in the video below by Simon Sinek, individuals within an organization will operate at their highest capacity when they feel safe/trust.

If your organization's culture is one in which individuals have to expend their energy being fearful and protective against others inside the organization, they will never perform to their max capacity to solve problems external to your organization.

This trust starts with you as the leader. When your employees see that you are willing to support them and get in the trenches with them, you will be amazed at the results it will produce in their happiness, performance and collabiration with others. 


If you have not already, you should notice a trend that each key differentiators begin with the self. So much of leadership begins with an unnatural ability of those in roles of authority to be wise about themselves and situations in order to perform at a more idealistic level to external stimuli.

The measure of a true leader is in the number of leaders that have developed under one’s leadership. Have your direct subordinates advanced their careers, been promoted rapidly through the organization, or improved in their current role?

We hope you answer yes more and more to this question. This will be the case as we realize the key to our improved leadership starts with ourSELF.

Action Steps

1.) Work on self-awareness by utilizing a personality test tool like Crystal to better understand yourself and those you lead.  

2.) Exercise self-leadership over less desirable traits. For example, if you are prone to overreaction at the first signs of trouble. It will be difficult at first, but the more that you understand yourself and lead your emotions, rather than the other way around, the easier it will get.  

3.) Leadership is and always will be about placing the needs of the organization before yourself. Work daily to promote those in your organization that place solutions above problems and the success of the whole over the individual. 

Blessings In Your Endeavors,

Ruben Watson 

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