I have to admit it; I am a fan of Tarantino. But we have to recognise that we can get the most out of it if we are talking about human behaviour.
In today’s case we are going to talk about power in the organisations with the following fragment of his first film: Reservoir Dogs.
In any organisation it is easy to find anybody with the power of Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney) the chief of the mafia. His authority is undisputable and he is completely conscious that he has all the power in the organisation. This power that he has over all the others is a double edge sword; on one hand it allows to organise the group quickly and make it focus in the goals. On the other hand, it entails to create a bad environment and aggressiveness between the people who join this group.
The main difference between a leader and a boss is very simple: the leader is made by others, the boss is made by itself.
The leader draws his power from the people who are part of the organisation. It is all the company that relies on this leader to give him the ability to make decisions and the authority. The same way, it is the organisation and its members who can easily snatch this power and put this person to the same level as the others. Thus, the leader arises from the other people who are part of the company.
On the other hand, the boss gets his power from the authority and from the hierarchy. He is on the top of a pyramid. He has escalated step by step and once on the top he knows nobody can put him out. He is conscious nobody can snatch his power and that his decisions will not be discussed, as if anybody tries to, he will have few chances to win: “There’s two ways you can go on this job: my way or the highway”.
As we see the main difference is who gives to power to them. In one of them is the organisation who gives the power in a consensual way (leader) and in the other a hierarchy that cannot be changed does (boss).
This does not mean that a boss cannot be a good leader, nor that a leader cannot become a boss. But in the moment that a leader starts doing things wrong, the organisation will take charge to solve the problem, while with the boss is much more difficult.