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With the spurt in the industrialization, after globalization in late nineties, the industries started growing rapidly and with that the demand of workers had grown thereby resulted in the demand of Supervisors or the Leaders. Since the demand was high people were hired in haphazard manner, without adequately equipped with the qualities of a good leader. Some learn and inculcate but some follow their own style and traits. Quite often we came across situation where we find that the person sitting on the 'chair' behaves more like a boss than as a leader.

You rightly pointed out, is there any difference between Boss and Leader? The answer is Yes, there is and you will realize this as you read further.  

You might have heard about various styles of leadership, and qualities of a leader. With this article am trying to share my thoughts which I gained from my studies and experience by working with leaders in the MNCs and some of the time-tested approaches which I evolved by being a leader myself.

There are many principles, theories and text available on the Leaderships and how to be a good Leader. I keep it simple, for me there are only two styles of leadership exists wherein the underlying factor or the embedded element is the quality or the personality of the person.

The personality of the leader is the key ingredients which defines and turn out to be his style of leadership. Some of these qualities are inherited and some are imbibed from the environment he brought up.  

The two styles which I discovered in most of the leaders are either of below.

1. Fix the Problem or
2. Pass on the blame.  

Let’s see in detail what I mean with these styles of leadership:

1. FIX THE PROBLEM: Under this style or approach the leader is more interested to understand the root cause of the issue causing damage or creating issues and puts all efforts to fix it. The leader delegates authority but retains responsibility and ownership with him. The Leader takes the right action instead of taking action which he thinks is right. The leader appears to be friendlier and sounds like mentor or counselor and takes his team into confidence. If a supervisor or manager bears this quality he will be a Leader.

2. FIX THE BLAME: With this approach the supervisor tries to play safe and identifies all the means and ways to keep himself away from being blamed for mistakes. Where the manager or supervisor believes in delegating all or almost all the responsibilities, but retains authority with him, which in the ideal situation he is supposed to dispense. Abstain from taking initiatives or delivers long lectures on ideal world which he himself doesn't bother to follow or to the contrary doesn’t speak but plans and executes by delegating his task and imposes his decisions. For these kinds of managers every person is responsible for the error other than himself. These types of managers or supervisors are more a Boss than a leader.

A leader convinces his followers for the decision he takes as against Boss who is prescriptive to the subordinates. Think of any style of leadership you will find that style embedded into either of above two styles. Let’s look into the traits of the manager who fall under either of the above class:

The Manager who is more concerned to fix the problem has visions and works for the benefit of the organization and listens his subordinates. Whereas the manager who is expert in passing on the blame ends up causing more damage to the organization because for him the prime focus is to save himself by passing the blame. Once blame is fixed, for him, the issue is resolved whereas the issue continues to persist in fact becomes more serious.

The manager with former approach sees followers he is more liked by the organization too. The team and organization can experience exponential growth which is natural and organic growth whereas the manager who follows later approach is surrounded by adulators and sycophants. It goes without saying where the manager likes ‘Yes Boss’ can not do great job neither for team nor for organization. He sits in his own comfort zone. The adulators can see exponential growth whereas the soul of the team dies and the talents drain out becomes normal feature due to ignorance and dissatisfaction. These type of managers do what they think is right whereas what is right. Hence they are rightly addressed as The Boss.

Boss vs.  Leader

And here the difference lies as to who is the Boss and who is the Leader? Boss uses or exploits the power of his chair to have his followers whereas the Leader uses his skills to have his fan following. People are attached to the leader for long lasting period whereas the people following a boss are more a matter of opportune. The Leader walks with crowd whereas the Boss walks with assistants / secretaries or adulators.

Comparison with other styles of Leadership

There is a style of leadership known as Servant Leadership which I put under the first approach. Therefore qualified to be called as Leader, they are more led by example and regardless of their position or perquisites or aura do not hesitate to connect with the people at ground level. He never works for the fame or recognition as a Leader which he earns with his deeds. They think for their people and team. This approach may not do well where strict or hard decisions are to be taken. Whereas the managers with the second approach are more Bureaucratic who tries to justify his doings by referring rule book or the policies. This approach is good where the nature of business is more hazardous or dangerous but in the industries where the thing are free flowing this approach acts more like an hindrance and tormenting for the employees. Less scope for employees to apply mind if they apply they will be turned down. The Bureaucratic or directive style works where there is a crisis, when deviations are risky but not effective when subordinates are highly skilled – they become frustrated and resentful at the micromanaging.

One of the approach of leadership is Charismatic Leadership which falls under the first approach of leadership. In this approach, the leaders inspire and motivate their team members. By setting himself as an example for the team. When this quality of leadership goes into extreme then it falls in the second approach where the Charismatic leader think that he can do no wrong, even when others warn them about the path that they're on. This feeling of invincibility can severely damage a team or an organization, and this is evident from the 2008 turmoil.

One more approach is Transactional leadership which falls in our second style of leadership who qualifies to be called The Boss. More bossism than leadership. In this style the subordinate agree to obey their boss when they accept a job. The subordinates are being realized that they are paid to obey their boss. The boss has a right to "punish" team members if their work doesn't meet an appropriate standard. More common in defence organizations.

At last lest see one of the important and most discussed styles Autocratic and Democratic style of leadership. Here am not mentioning the style or approaches to which these falls in instead expect you to figure out.

Under the Autocratic leadership the leader acts as a final authority irrespective of the views or wishes of the subordinates secretly imposes his wishes. The ideology is ‘Failure is yours and success is mine’. Don’t hesitate to take hard decision or do not abstain to impose decision which may result hardship to the subordinate. Since he is more authoritative subordinates do not open up and do not share their though and views. The moral of the team generally found down and lack in motivation. Style is appropriate when you need to make decisions quickly, when there's no need for team input, and when team agreement isn't necessary for a successful outcome, when team is not expected to apply mind to innovate or there is routine job. Best style while dealing with inexperienced or fresher's who are not matured enough to take appropriate decision. However, this style can be demoralizing, and it can lead to high levels of absenteeism and staff turnover. Democratic leaders are more popular among the team members and they value the views and thoughts of team member. Though the final decision comes from the leader but only after considering the inputs received from the team members. They encourage creativity, and people are often highly engaged in projects and decisions. As a result, team members tend to have high job satisfaction and high productivity. This style is highly recommended while working with experienced and professionally qualified team members. Democratic leader embeds the quality of the affiliative style which has the primary objective of creating harmony among employees and between manager and employees: The “people first, task second” manager, avoids conflict and emphasizes good personal relationships among employees, motivates by trying to keep people happy.

Before we wrap up let’s encapsulate what have we seen and assess what kind of manager you are a Leader or a Boss? The person who is led by ethics and has human touch while being the supervisor, who believes in human capital yet aggressive as well as concerned for his organization will definitely end up being a Leader whereas person who believes in the power of the chair who is more concerned to protect himself will end up by being the boss. Leaders have follower with long lasting relations whereas bosses left with adulators and opportunistic people.

The question which might be striking in your mind is that which approach is better and which approach is to be followed? Well, the answer is neither of the approach but the hybrid approach or balanced approach. Following one approach as a thumb rule won't be a good idea instead one should take decision based on the situation. One has to learn the timing and appropriateness of the approach on a given situation. Both the approaches has its own pros and cons but if it is used in definite proportion one can reap the maximum benefit out of it.

The author can also be reached out at ca.vkd@rediffmail.com

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