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Leader or Boss?

by Alexandra Sousa 3 months ago in advice
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The differences are, in fact, huge and are not limited to the mindset and different postures of the person (leader or boss) but also to the way teams perceive them, and how they feel, and work every day.

A few years ago, in one of my teams, I had a colleague who knew that for me the word “boss” was like a bad word 😄 jokingly, she called me "chefinha" (it means boss but in an affection way) but she knew well what I aspired to be and still do every day — a leader.

You’ve probably seen several images that illustrate the differences between leaders and bosses like the one used in this article.

The differences are, in fact, huge and are not limited to the mindset and different postures of the person (leader or boss) but also to the way teams perceive them, and how they feel, and work every day.

It is important to realize that, whether a leader or a boss, they have immense repercussions on their teams, results, environment, and culture.

Companies are only as good as their leaders.

I will focus on the 5 values ​​that, in my opinion, make all the difference:


Without trust, nothing true and bilateral is built. Even if no one is responsible for me, we can all practice this value to make our professional relationships more authentic and enriching. As a leader or team member, I have to trust the other so that I can give my opinion, suggest changes, and innovate in the way we do something, whatever it may be. Trust is built, and it should be a value by which we must govern our modus operandi to create unique and lasting relationships. And from trust comes respect. Don’t think that having the title A, B or C automatically gives you the respect and trust of others. It is a relationship that is built. Set the example. The more you trust your team, the more they will trust you.


Having the ability to understand the other, listen more than is said, and ask questions to help find solutions together is always the right path to take instead of looking for blame, pointing fingers, or judging. Knowing how to put yourself in the other’s shoes is a recurring activity to ensure that no one feels defrauded and helpless. Practice active listening and be aware not only of what you say but also how you say it and how you react — verbal and non-verbal language. It doesn’t do much good to say all the right words if you clearly show that you’re uncomfortable or show disappointment or disinterest. Trust that your interlocutor will pay attention to everything. How many times do you come out of a conversation with someone and say “He/She said yes but it seemed that, in reality, that was not what he/she was thinking or feeling”.


For middle managers, it is always very difficult to manage the information they receive. And they often choose to send a different message to their teams so they don’t feel pressured or discouraged. It’s important to put this information into perspective and see if hiding it will really benefit the team that much. Throughout my career, I’ve always chosen to share reality with my teams (if it wasn’t confidential, of course). Only then, could we all think about how to act and turn around, together. As a team. A solid and united front. The way you pass these messages also has a lot of weight so, if you’re not comfortable, prepare, plan and think about how you can share the information in the best way. The role of a leader has a high component of knowing how to communicate and often acting as a diplomat.


Admitting when you don’t know or you’re not comfortable with a certain topic is always more beneficial than pretending or lying. It can be difficult, at an early stage, to admit weaknesses but that’s why we have teams. To complement each other. I make a point of always choosing better people than me for my teams. I want to surround myself with the best because their success will contribute, on a large scale, to the success of the whole. A leader does not and should not know everything. And having this capacity for humility combined with the ability to delegate, are important tools for the team to be more successful. The ego in a leader is not something that should ever motivate his actions and attitudes. Apologize and take responsibility. Putting yourself at the disposal of others and learning from them will only bring benefits. It’s a symbiotic relationship, don’t forget that.


You know you are doing a good job as a leader when your team, or even other people, turn to you when they need to vent or ask for help or advice. That’s how you know that your work of creating a space of trust, empathy, transparency, and humility is paying off. That’s how you know you’re being a leader by the example you’re setting for your people and the company. You always find time for others, talk to them, and find ways to overcome the challenges that arise. From the beginning, I remember saying to everyone, “If you need anything, just say. Whether it’s to vent, ask for help, or even just to say some bad words” 🙃 because releasing the frustration of something we can’t change is much healthier than accumulating and ending up bursting.


Well… I don’t think I need to explain that traditional bosses don’t have these pillars as a compass for their performance. They tend to prioritize appearances, micromanaging, not trusting anyone, and sometimes pressuring, manipulating, and selling the “snake’s lard” to the point of insulting everyone’s intelligence.

I have always focused on one leadership style — Servant Leader. If you want to know more, you can read the next article.

I will continue to explore, not only the values, but also mindset, challenges, and ideas for action in future articles so stay tuned, and, of course, if you want me to share something in more detail, please let me know.

Have a wonderful day,

Alexandra Sousa


About the author

Alexandra Sousa

Agile Coach, Entrepreneur, Animal Lover, Humanitarian & “Make a World a Better Place” Enthusiast

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