Why is Bruce Springsteen Called “The Boss”?

May 21st, 2014

I recently attended my first Bruce Springsteen concert this past week in Hershey, PA.  We talk about leaders only being leaders when they have followers. Well Bruce has followers. After all, he is the “Boss” right? I bet you don’t know why he is called the boss. Well, back in the early (glory) days he was the one who had to collect the night’s receipts and be responsible for distributing the money to bandmates. At first, Bruce hated the name because of what boss typically means as a stereotype. I think it’s safe to say at this point he has tacitly accepted his moniker. And after watching him play for three hours and ten minutes with barely a sip of water? There is no doubt in my mind that he is in charge, in control, and on top of every little detail as a master showman can be.  He is The Boss today but for very different reasons than way back when!

After watching his performance I can assure you he is a good leader. He has such high energy and regard for people including his bandmates and crew, the fans, and all those that he can help. (Bruce brought seven different fans on stage to jam with him, sing, and to share their cause). Without fear or thought that they might in anyway be there to hurt or harm him or others!

All of this Boss talk got me thinking. Do you like being called boss? I had a favorite admin. who called me jefe, which means boss and I hated it. She insisted she meant it in a different meaning than the stereotype. Jefe meant that I was in charge and that she could count on me.

So I looked up the definition of boss. And guess what I learned?

Boss as a noun seems reasonable enough to me. Someone in charge of a team or organization. Each culture and its value is different in each group however, someone, is always responsible for a team—even in self-directed teams.

So how about Boss as the adjective? Boss means excellent or outstanding. If everyone can be the boss and live up to excellence or be outstanding then let’s all get name tags!  An environment of results and outstanding can’t be all bad, right?

ID-10066133Now we are getting into it. Boss as the verb. To dictate. To lord over. To domineer.  To push around. To browbeat. To create undue pressure. This is where the stereotype exists!

No one wants to work for a boss. Few people tolerate dictators or lords if they can help it.  No one wants second class treatment when they can be equally important. I’m sure that being pushed around or browbeat isn’t motivating for long. Bossing and managing by fear mongering works for as long as the Boss has power. Which is usually only as long as it takes employees to figure out what to do about it.

So unless you’re Bruce Springsteen, be careful about acting like a boss!

2 Responses to “Why is Bruce Springsteen Called “The Boss”?”

  1. angela burcham Says:

    this article doesnt answer the question! To put it simply he was called the boss from when he was in a band and he distributed the pay amongst the other musicians.

  2. Outside-In Guy Says:

    Hi Angela, thank you for your comment. We address the answer in the first paragraph, but you’re right, we can probably do a better job of explaining the story!

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