Are You a Boss, or Are You a Leader?

We have all had bosses, currently have bosses, and are even bosses today. This title/capacity doesn’t always have a positive connotation; in fact, many are quick to rattle off everything that is horrible about their boss. We’ve all had one—or more—of this kind of boss: the kind that makes you wish you didn’t have to go to work.

These aren’t all bosses, however. There are those managers and leaders who create a work environment that helps you and others excel—an environment that breeds cooperation, teamwork, and success. Notice the shift in how I referred to these individuals—managers and leaders vs. bosses.

If you look up each of these words, they all define an individual who is responsible for overseeing and leading others regarding specific activities—in this case, work-related activities. If they all essentially mean the same thing, why do some titles conjure up different feelings?

I suppose you could have a good boss, but my guess is you wouldn’t necessarily think of them as someone who is bossing you around, or who is “in control” of you. Instead, you likely believe they’re an effective manager of individuals and their skills, or a great leader who guides a team toward successful achievements. What is the difference between these individuals? It’s the single strongest predictor of one’s ability to be a successful leader or manager.

The Single Strongest Predictor of Successful Leadership

One’s intelligence quotient (IQ) can only predict 1-20 percent of their success in a job. Their emotional quotient (EQ) however, predicts 27-45 percent of success—particularly as a leader or manager. So, while smarts are important, your emotional “smarts/skills” are even more important.

What is your EQ, or level of emotional intelligence? According to the dictionary, Emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationship judiciously and empathetically. The greater one’s emotional intelligence or EQ, the better they’ll be dealing with everyone and everything around them—making them not only an effective manager, but an effective human being.

Your EQ will determine how self-aware, motivated, self-disciplined, and empathic you are, allowing you to make more balanced decisions in all that you do. Consider your ability to bring people together, motivate your team members, and establish trust—are you accomplishing each of these objectives effectively? If not, have you stopped to consider what might be getting in the way? The answer could very well be you.

Getting Out of Your Own Way

Increasing our EQ is necessary if we want to climb in leadership opportunities, and subsequently, our careers. But, how is this achieved? The key to EQ is self-awareness. Before you can be aware of anyone else around you, you need to be aware of yourself, which requires genuine self-reflection. The result can be uncomfortable and challenging, since it will likely require changes. And, while it’s not fun to focus on the negative, understanding your weaknesses is critical for improvement.

In an Inc. article written, Minda Zetlin explores the idea that instead of focusing on our strengths, perhaps we take more interest in our weaknesses. She states, “Our strengths help us get where we’re going, but if we don’t fully understand and account for our own weaknesses, we won’t be able to sustain success over the long term.”[1] When we begin to recognize what’s getting in our way, we can get it out of our way.

Become a more effective leader and not just a boss. Learn more about recognizing and potentially increasing your EQ.

[1] Melinda Zetlin, “Five Ways Smart Leaders Overcome Their Greatest Weaknesses,” Inc., (November 7, 2014):

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