by Barry S. Saltzman is CEO of Saltzman Enterprise Group

Acting “like a boss” may not be the best way to get respect from your employees. A strong leader aims to shift workplace culture. Consider for a moment the difference between a boss and a leader—what distinguishes the two? Some immediate differences come to mind. Leaders are inspiring; they’re invested; they’re engaged—but how do these differences play a role in affecting workplace culture? Let’s explore how a leader affects workplace culture in ways a boss can’t.

1. Employees Know They’re Going Somewhere

Overcoming the slog that is the standard 9-5 workday is a chore. Innumerable factors can drag an otherwise great job down to sheer mediocrity—and a lack of direction is at the helm of these issues. A strong leader assigns tasks that show a clear vision for the company’s future, and provides team members the necessary assurance they’re actually working toward something. It’s amazing what a bit of aim can do, and the ensuing morale boost drives quality and results that a boss simply can’t achieve.

“Employees motivated by a leader aren’t pushed. They are instead inspired to follow in their footsteps.”

“Leadership and culture aren’t about being the boss or being in control; they are about creating shared visions and goals, and then inspiring, empowering and influencing others to achieve more than they ever thought possible,” explains Gary Brooks, CMO at Urjanet. “Great leaders create places where people want to be rather than a place they have to go—places where smart, ambitious people challenge each other every day to do their best work and solve big problems.”

2. Employees Aren’t Pushed; They’re Led

This one seems self-explanatory —after all, leaders lead; it’s in the title. Keep in mind that employees motivated by a leader aren’t pushed. They are instead inspired to follow in their footsteps. Having a figurehead at the helm of the operation rather than a boss behind it inspires the creation of a team instead of a group of coworkers.

Confidence and faith in a leader has the potential to boost morale, and provide employees with the motivation to contribute to company culture. I’ve seen far too many companies waste potential thanks to the lack of a leader, so don’t be afraid to get in the thick of it with your team. They’ll appreciate it, and you’ll love the results.

3. Leaders Invest Back Into the Company

What’s arguably the most important effect a leader has on workplace culture? They invest back into the company.

“Confidence and faith in a leader has the potential to boost morale, and provide employees with the motivation to contribute to company culture. ”

This is crucial for a number of reasons, though progress is the key factor to keep in mind. Overall return on investment is drastically increased through careful and deliberate reinvestment, enhancing the ethos of the company. By keeping the company’s best interests in mind, a positive and powerful future can more easily be secured. All of this will inspire the entire team to work toward a common goal.

I’ve seen far too many companies fail thanks to their inability to keep reinvesting in their brand. It’s a slow process, but if it seems problematic, then perhaps entrepreneurship isn’t in the cards.


Barry S. Saltzman is CEO of Saltzman Enterprise Group and partner at Culture Measures, a business focused on turning the art of culture into a science. Barry’s expertise comes from more than 30 years of executive experience in both public and private global companies. He also speaks on business strategy and is a frequent guest expert, lending his entrepreneurial acumen to audiences of aspiring business leaders.