A boss and a leader sound like the same thing, however, they’re actually very different, especially during a crisis. While leaders and bosses manage workflows and keep everything on the right track, they fill completely different roles during times of uncertainty. What, then is the difference?

Anyone can direct a group of employees. In other words, anyone can act like a boss. What makes a leader different is that she or he inspires that group during the darkest of times, promoting creativity to solve challenges and focusing on what she or he can do to control the damage. Every group has a boss, a leader is someone that helps their team achieve their goals, no matter the situation.

There are three key things leaders do differently when unpredictable events occur: 

Make Hard Decisions Early: Leaders look for the big picture when making decisions. They are able to rise above the current problem and game out what could impact their organization. Then, they make adjustments accordingly. If tough decisions have to be made, they do so unflinchingly and decisively. True leaders have the foresight to ensure their organizations are not overwhelmed by troubling circumstances.  

Take the Time to Communicate Honestly: No matter what the situation, a leader can be counted on to provide their team with honest and transparent communication. One way leaders do this during a time of crisis is through regular meetings, giving their team the opportunity to share valuable insights with each other. They also invite questions during this time, answering to the best of their ability. If they don’t know the answer, they admit it, acknowledging they will work on finding one. During these meetings, leaders will also ask individuals how they are doing and take the time to listen to the reply. Bosses may ask this same question but will not leverage the valuable answers or engage further. 

Focus on What Can Be Controlled: During any hardship, there will be things that are outside of a leader’s control. However, it matters how a leader responds to this insecurity.  Worrying about uncertainty that cannot be controlled lowers morale and productivity. Leaders take the time to control their reaction to an unpredictable situation and empower their team members to do the same. 

While they seem the same, bosses and leaders are two very different types of people, especially during a time of crisis. Leaders take the time to engage with those who are concerned while providing open and honest communication to everyone. A boss might connect with her or his team but won’t engage with their opinions. In contrast, a leader will not worry about the uncontrollable, instead concentrating on what they can improve. During challenges, true leaders have measured responses and work for the betterment of all.