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Being a Boss is Easy… Being a Leader isn’t

By Gerald Wheelus

Gerald Wheelus

A boss or a leader. What’s the difference? A boss can be a leader and many times the term “boss” is meant as a term of endearment. “Boss” can often mean “the big wheel,” “administrator,” “governor,” “supervisor,” “manager,” “director,” “overseer,” “big cheese,” and certainly many, many more urban, street or dictionary synonyms could be used to describe in an affectionate way. But this column isn’t about any of those.

Let’s get down to it: A boss is often just that — a boss and nothing more to their subordinates. “Boss” in this case is a polite way of describing someone who just sits and points; sometimes it is called

Being boss is easy if you just sit back and watch everyone else work. Bosses often direct traffic, occasionally crack a whip and expect that everyone do as they are told and not as they do. However, bosses often do not have a loyal following nor are they very successful in the long-term. Bosses often can make a short-term impact as they will have everyone toeing the line but, a boss will likely have dissension amongst the ranks and an eventual mutiny. A boss will almost always have only one, or in some cases, none of the various leadership styles.

Leadership starts with the individual. I’ve gathered a few quotes that have struck me over the years about leadership:

“Your men love you. If I knew nothing else about you, that would be enough.”
 — From the movie “A Knights Tale”

“Leadership: The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”
— Dwight D. Eisenhower

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

“Delegating work works, provided the one delegating works, too.”
— Robert Half

“Remember the difference between a boss and a leader; a boss says ‘Go!’ — a leader says ‘Let’s go!’” 
— E.M. Kelly

“You don’t have to hold a position in order to be a leader.”
— Anthony J. D’Angelo

“You can’t lead anyone else further than you have gone yourself.”
— Gene Mauch

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”
— Tom Peters

“A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.”
— John C. Maxwell

“Leadership should be more participative than directive, more enabling than performing.”
— Mary D. Poole

Bosses are everywhere and we all have them. Leaders are around us as well. A poor leader will usually be just a boss. One of the quotes above is simple; “You do not have to have a position or a title to be a leader.”
The question is, will you be a leader or a boss when given the opportunity?

Gerald Wheelus is general manager of Edgewood Auto Parts, Edgewood, Texas. 

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