Bad Boss vs. Good Leader Image

Boss vs. Leader and Mission of a Team

This simple graphic depicts the difference between  a Bad Boss and a Good Leader. I love it, because it highlights  some key attributes, including:

1. Role of the Team: The Bad Boss expects the team to serve them. The Good Leader serves the team.

2. Command vs. Participate: Bad Bosses command others to do what they are no longer willing to do themselves. Good Leaders never ask from the team, what they are unwilling to do themselves.

3. Role of the Mission: Bad Bosses sit on top of the mission. They use the mission to promote themselves. In contrast, Good Leaders focus on the mission for the mission’s sake.

4. Expectations of Self: Bad Bosses expect to reap rewards from the hard work that got them to their position. The Good Leader understands the workload only increases as they progress.

It’s easy to spot a Bad Boss or a Good Leader, especially when compared against each other. This simple graphic helps clarify that image.

Question: What other key differences are there between a Bad Boss and a Good Leader? Leave a comment here.

Credit: A special thanks to my brother, Matt, from, for sharing this image. I’ve not been able to identify the original image and made minor edits (adding the phrase “mission”). If find the original artist, please let me know so I may share credit.


Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

23 thoughts on “Bad Boss vs. Good Leader Image”

  1. You asked: What other key differences are there between a Bad Boss and a Good Leader? Just one really … EGO!!

  2. love this one … btw: there is another good point in the picture: a boss makes the mission “harder” (he increases the weight the other guys need to pull and of course the leader himself will help)

  3. Doug Courtemanche

    What happens when you put a Committee on top of the Mission, or worse yet a whole bureaucracy? The Mission slows down, stalls or stops. If you are trying to go up a hill it will likely reverse!

    1. Really Mauricio, let’s look at: A leader directing and leading the way, taking part in the mission and not letting go. Constantly guiding, planning the next action but still have a hand in the progression of mission completion. A leader always have his hand/hands in it!

  4. The team gets the credit – not the boss – who always puts the team at the forefront, and stays in the background and out of the limelight.

  5. Pingback: The Difference Between a Boss and a Leader | Leadership

  6. Bad Boss: disciplines in front of everyone to embarrass the team member. Good leader disciplines in private so the team member doesn’t feel “called out”.

    Bad Boss: takes credit for the ideas of the team member(s). Good Leader: gives credit for the idea of the team member(s)

    Bad Boss: treats their employees as if they were less than people. Good Leader: treats their employees as people. (I guess this goes along with the “doing what one is unwilling to do themselves”)

  7. Anyone notice that the boss cut cost by using a shorter rope, purchased a desk and chair, and is getting a higher level of productivity out of his workers. Future savings from repairs from the shorter rope should also provide gains compared to the guys on the bottom with the long rope, who could potentially get tangled up in it. The boss on top could also be seen as promoting a safety first mentality.

    1. That’s the problem Cain, cutting cost and not thinking about the task, just reaching the mark. Leaders have to keep in mind, direction, path, obstacles, and more importantly team members. The boss only cares of the end product. Leaders care for the well being of the whole team and what it will take to get the task complete.


    2. Tagged 'n' bagged

      If anything you could argue that the leader is the one thinking about cutting costs the most as he doesnt have to purchase an expensive desk and chair, only a slightly longer rope (say 25% more) and is easing the workload of the employees by a tremendous amount (both through additional strength and lack of additional baggage to drag) therefore increasing company morale and making the workplace more lighthearted and “family” which dramatically lowers turnover rate (you think hiring people is free?) Therefore saving the company more money.

      ALSO since the leader front and center they will shelter the employees from potential catastrophe’s heading towards the group by taking the brunt of the damage further making the workplace something enjoyable.

    1. I hope the presentation went well. It must have been a great one – could you share it?

      Apologies as I am surely too late. However, I do not have the permission to give as I am not the original author of the image. As I noted in the bottom of the post, I’m still trying to find the creator of the image myself. If you find them, please let me know!

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