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What Makes a Leader Bossy vs. Confident?

Some people think being the boss means ordering people around and taking all of the praise for their good work. These people don't understand the difference between bossy vs. confident.

Here at LeadYouth, we teach our learners how to be good leaders, not bosses. We use the term “leader” instead of “boss” purposefully. Leaders are not bossy. They inspire, enable, and encourage their teams with emotional intelligence, confidence, and skill. 

Our lessons in leadership are built on the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership created by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. Take a look at the difference between a leader and a boss. 

Condescending vs. Encouraging

Has someone ever spoken to you in a condescending tone? This tone of voice makes you feel like this person does not respect you. When your boss is condescending, it makes team members uncomfortable asking questions or clarifying instructions. It prevents team members from contributing their thoughts or opinions to the discussion. 

A boss thinks they know better than anyone else on the team and uses a harsh tone of voice to make sure everyone else knows it. By contrast, a confident leader is firm and direct. They model the way they expect people to treat and respect each other.

Micromanaging vs. Delegating

Bossy people are more likely to micromanage your work. Micromanaging is an overbearing management style with constant check-ins and nitpicking. This type of boss may even tell you explicitly how to accomplish your tasks. 

This management style leaves the team discouraged and feeling incapable. It may also delay the project or prevent it from being completed altogether. Instead of micromanaging tasks, the best leaders inspire a shared vision and delegate with confidence, trusting that their team will do a good job. 

Rigid vs. Growth Minded

Someone who is committed to being seen as the boss is often unwilling to take suggestions or make changes. They need to be seen as an expert, so they won’t experiment and take risks. Their teams end up stifled, inefficient, and afraid to fail. 

An exemplary leader is always looking for ways to improve. They look for ways to improve their and their team’s performance, even if that includes change. They challenge the process and encourage people to take measured risks. 

Distant vs. Connected

Someone who is bossy doesn’t get to know their team members personally. They don’t take the time to learn about each person’s goals and contributions. As a result, a bossy leader is impersonal in delegating tasks. 

By contrast, an emotionally intelligent leader is connected with their team members. They get to know each member as an individual and understand their goals, strengths, and weaknesses. Confident and connected leaders play to their team’s strengths and encourage the heart so each team member can do their best work.

Intimidating vs. Approachable

A distant, condescending leader who micromanages their team is inherently unapproachable. A team that can’t approach their boss may feel like they have to hide issues or resolve problems without support. Over time, this will create a logjam of obstacles that blocks the team from success.

Great leaders enable others to act by supporting each person to feel capable and powerful. They check in with their team to gather feedback and adjust accordingly. A confident leader asks for constructive feedback and creates an atmosphere of trust. 

Today’s students need confidence to become the leaders of tomorrow. At LeadYouth, we teach lessons in leadership, confidence, and emotional intelligence based on the work of respected researchers and authors. A child who learns how to apply the five practices of exemplary leadership today, is equipped to lead anywhere from the classroom to the boardroom. Learn more about the courses we offer.


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