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.

About the Author:

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder - the leading blog on servant leadership and top 35 site for any leadership topic, globally. Ben also speaks and consults on IT and management topics for a large variety of clients. Find out more about him at


  1. IslandKaren May 3, 2013 at 11:38 am - Reply

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

  2. Jacqueline Urquizo July 2, 2013 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    teamwork vs solitary star

  3. Mauricio November 12, 2013 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    Boss: 100% useless.
    Leader: Could you please stop talking and use both your hands to pull the damn thing ?!

  4. Carsten König December 19, 2013 at 7:59 am - Reply

    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)

  5. Doug Courtemanche March 1, 2014 at 11:45 am - Reply

    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!

  6. Marcos April 12, 2014 at 12:55 pm - Reply

    The original image is from this page

    • RichOne7 September 3, 2015 at 6:58 am - Reply

      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!

      • RichOne7 September 3, 2015 at 7:02 am - Reply

        Sorry Marcos, this was meant for Maurico bwlow

  7. Old Fire Chief April 22, 2014 at 9:50 am - Reply

    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.

  8. Barabba July 3, 2014 at 9:34 am - Reply

    ..mi sento la fune..

  9. Barabba July 3, 2014 at 9:35 am - Reply

    ..spesso le funi.

  10. […] Image Source: […]

  11. Uncommon Effort November 15, 2014 at 10:00 am - Reply

    Great post! I really like point #3, that’s great. I’ve always said that a boss takes credit, a leader takes blame.

    I just wrote an article on leadership and your image fit perfectly. I’ve provided credit of the image, with multiple links back to this post. If you’d like me to change something, please let me know! Check it out;

  12. Runnersaint February 23, 2015 at 2:33 am - Reply

    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”)

  13. cain April 4, 2015 at 6:37 pm - Reply

    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.

    • Ben Lichtenwalner April 4, 2015 at 7:11 pm - Reply

      Ha! Can’t say I agree, but that’s definitely another way to look at it.

    • RichOne7 September 3, 2015 at 6:52 am - Reply

      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.


  14. PANNALAL SONI November 13, 2015 at 1:32 am - Reply

    Excellent Presentation.

  15. Samuel Rainey April 17, 2016 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    Can I have permission to use this image for a presentation I’m giving next week? Thanks.

    • Ben Lichtenwalner May 4, 2016 at 12:35 pm - Reply

      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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