Before we ask leaders to express their preferred style of leadership, it is important to distinguish the boss-like leader from a coach-like leader.

Boss-like leader emphasizes the directions with the sole focus on the top-down management style. Followers and the needs of the followers are not the primary concern in boss-like leadership. Instead, the authoritarian form of leadership prevails to get the maximum output with the least possible investment.

These long-standing leadership practices have served the companies for decades with a greater return on the areas such as clarity in the chain of command and consistent results. However, in 21st-century, the workforce shows strong resistance towards boss-like leadership, demanding a more humanistic style of leadership.

In contrast, coach-like leaders put employees and the needs of the employees as the paramount concern of the leadership focus. Coaching contends with the traditional leadership and urges leaders to see employees as a whole person and not limited to their designation or assigned task.

Coaching takes extra pain to peep into the emotional and psychological world of their employees catering to the most fundamental needs on which human motivation resides. Therefore, the coach-like leader acts as a captain of the ship responsible for every crew member’s life, security, and safe return back home.


To further understand the difference between these two very important leadership styles, let’s discuss this using three specific distinctions:

Difference #1: TASK VS. RAPPORT

A boss like a leader seems to care more for the task accomplishment than building rapport and connection by asking his team-members about their challenges to complete the task. So much so, that issues and problems regarding task achievement are not even a concern for the boss. All they concern about is get the work done. As a result, the team often delivers the task but fails to add creativity and a personal touch.

Coach-like leader, on the other hand, appears to be invested in building a deep relationship with the team members, offering them his/her full support and encouragement with pro-active presence both in words and actions. The coaching leadership is hard to develop but very convenient to run as a natural process to bring the best out of people. Employees are working under a coach-like leader experiment more, always willing to go the extra mile to match the trust their leaders have shown upon their competence and capabilities.

Consequently, the results show a significant difference with more diversity, determination and personal responsibility. All in all, employees give their blood and sweat to the task because every employee feels ownership of the organization.

Difference #2: CRISIS VS. CALM

Moving on to another key area of distinction, boss-like leaders seriously lack building a composed behavior in a time of crisis or emergency such as these days of a global pandemic. Why? The answer is pretty much simple, due to immense pressure on handling the situation as normally as possible. Since, the boss-like leader leads in isolation, difficult times make him suffer the most. In frustration and haste to control the uncontrollable, the boss worsens the situation by losing the trust and confidence of his team.

Coach-like leader, on the other hand, manages crisis gracefully with the help of his team following the “we are all in this together “approach. A crisis is a time when a coach-like leader demonstrates his maximum influence and impact by keeping the team collected under one mission and constantly inspiring them to continue working with more resilience and perseverance. How come?

Coach-leader has won the hearts of the team, and he connects with his employees, his team believes in his vision beyond the temporary situation. Subsequently, the group displays solidarity and support beyond their assigned roles and monetary rewards, resulting in a far more competitive team than any other.

Difference #3: DEADLINE VS. GROWTH

The last but not least is the area of focus where these two leadership styles highlight key differences. The boss-like leader focuses on the deadlines with “here and now” tone. However, the coach-like leader brings all his focus on the long-term goals achieved by empowered and responsible employees.

A coach-like leader gives more time for a long-term benefit and does not confuse quality with quantity.

Now, I dare to ask you; what is your preferred style? Bossing or Coaching?


After spending years helping leaders adopt a coaching style of leadership, I have found three core reasons that persuade managers to choose Coaching over bossing.


“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants to be done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt

People’s management is not an easy task. Leadership roles are becoming overwhelmingly demanding more than ever before. According to research by the International Coach Federation (ICF), companies with active coaching cultures report 8% more employee engagement than those of the companies with poor coaching cultures.

Coach-like leader achieves higher employee engagement with a few very basic shifts in behavior. He works on the strengths of the employees by improving his knowledge of employees’ capabilities and talents.

He identifies the right person for the right task assigning a perfect blend of challenge and skill to accomplish the task with full engagement.

On the contrary, a boss-like leader lacks insight on the potential of the employees and generally gets stuck on designation, performance record, and safe play mindset. He also requires the foresight to challenge his under-performers with appropriate task allocation.

Resultantly, employees struggle with the same type of work for years and years, having no excitement or utilization of their full potential.


Involving teams in in the decision making process Coaching instils greater responsibility and ownership among his team members by as well as building their self-confidence to improve their self-efficacy. Every member of the team is valuable in a coaching culture, refuting all the hierarchical demarcation and control and command regime.

Boss-like leaders seem to be less effective here in developing a mechanism where employees are conscientious and able to self-regulate themselves. Boss-like leaders exert a huge amount of time in surveillance and keeping check and balances to keep the team focused on the goals.

Thus, the boss-like leader shows more burn-out than an average coach-like leader.


Coaching opens an exotic door of continuous learning and development not only for the team but for the leader also. Bossing is often about being a perfect or epitome of excellence and competence, somehow creating a superficial image of expertise. Real or genuine ability is an ongoing process of constant learning and development.

When employees are not judged by their failures rather coached on their shortcomings, it develops an atmosphere of a growth mindset. People do not hide or hold back their weaknesses, instead show more openness and willingness to improve upon and convert weaknesses into their strengths.


Bossing and coaching both have their respective pros and cons, but as we know the philosophy of X and Y generation leadership rules. Today, this Y generation seeks more coach-like leaders who support growth, diversity, innovation, and flexibility for mutual growth and success.




Author of International Bestseller ‘Power of Teams’

Qaiser Abbas is an Award-Winning Success Coach and bestselling author. His Coach Network includes over 250 Professional Coaches across the globe.

In his 20 years journey as Leadership Coach, Qaiser has had the privilege to coach CEOs, business leaders, celebrities, and superstars of sports, movies, and media. His clients include many Fortune 500 companies like Toyota, GE, Nestle, Philips, Total, Schlumberger, Coca Cola, PepsiCo, Unilever, Abbott, and Reckitt-Benckiser.

Qaiser is the recipient of the ‘Brian Tracy International Excellence Award 2017, held in London. He is also the recipient of the ‘Trainer of the Year’ Award for Asia by the World HRD Congress, Singapore.

Qaiser shot to fame by his blockbuster book ‘Tick Tick Dollar’. Qaiser is a living example of overcoming adversity and turning dreams into reality and has touched the lives of millions around the globe.

Apart from coaching and training leaders in the world’s top MNCs, World Bank, WHO, and US Embassy; Qaiser is making a massive contribution to society through ‘Possibilities Schools’ and ‘My First Bike’. His 100% books proceeds support out-of-school children’s education. To know more about him you can visit

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