50 Synonyms for “Leader”

By Mark Nichol

Here’s a list of words that can take the place of leader.

1. Administrator: a person with short-term or long-term responsibility — in the latter sense, usually a generic term; also, one given responsibility over an estate
2. Archon: one who presides (informal), or a chief magistrate in Athens in classical times
3. Autocrat: one with absolute power
4. Boss: someone in authority or control, as a manager or supervisor or a politician who does not have official status as leader of a political entity but has the actual power
5. Captain: a commander of certain military, law-enforcement, or firefighting units with the official rank of captain, or one who commands a vessel regardless of actual rank, or, by analogy, one who is an acknowledged leader (as in the metaphorical phrase “captain of industry”)
6. Coach: one who helps others acquire knowledge or develop skills, especially in athletics, either in groups or, as a tutor, individually; also, one of various types of vehicles
7. Chair (or chairman, chairwoman, or chairperson): one who leads a board of directors or trustees, a committee, or an academic department or presides over a meeting
8. Chief: the leader of an organization or department (informal except in such titles as “chief of police” and “chief information officer,” or in reference to the leader of a band or tribe of Native Americans)
9. Chieftain: the leader of a band, clan, or tribe
10. Commandant: a leader of some military units
11. Commander: a leader of a certain military, law-enforcement, or firefighting units with the official rank of commander, or one in command of such a unit regardless of actual rank, or the leader of some organizations or societies
12. Commanding officer: the senior officer of a military unit
13. Commissioner: the leader of a bureau or department in the public sector, a leader with responsibility for some subordinate geopolitical entities, or the administrative leader of a professional body of athletic teams; also, a member of a commission
14. Conductor: one who coordinates the performance of an orchestra or other large music ensemble; also, someone who collects fares on public transit, or a material that permits the flow of energy, heat, or sound
15. Dean: a member of the clergy or a school administrator in charge of part of a church jurisdiction or part of a learning institution, or responsible for counseling and monitoring students, or, informally, someone recognized as preeminent in his or her field
16. Demagogue: one who leads a political party or movement and maintains influence through emotional appeals
17. Director: the leader of an administrative unit, or one of a group of people responsible for the governance of a corporation or a nonprofit organization, or the person in charge of a theatrical production or an orchestra or another music ensemble
18. Dictator: an authoritarian head of state, especially one who obtained leadership by force
19. Doyen (or the feminine form doyenne): a person distinguished in a certain endeavor, or a senior member of a group
20. Executive: one with administrative or managerial authority
21. Figurehead: one who has the appearance of authority but has only a nominal leadership role; this term is inappropriate for referring to someone who is actually in authority or has significant power
22. General: a commander of a military unit with the official rank of general, or one who leads with the character of a general
23. Generalissimo: the commander in chief of an army, or one who conducts himself or herself with an authoritarian attitude stereotypical of a military dictator
24. Governor: the chief official of a state, a colony, or another subordinate political entity
25. Guide: one who literally or figuratively leads others toward a goal; also, a handbook or other informational resource
26. Head: a leader of a department or operation (generic)
27. Headman: a leader of a tribe
28. Manager: a leader of a department, or someone with responsibility for all or part of a business or operation (sometimes generic); also, one who directs or advises an athlete or a performer or assists with a sports operation
29. Master: the leader of some institutions or societies, a person in command of a merchant vessel, or synonymous with governor or ruler; also, one with power or responsibility over another
30. Mentor: one who counsels or guides, especially in the pursuit of knowledge or skill
31. Minister: a high-ranking government official; also, a diplomatic representative or, in some religious organizations, a member of the clergy with administrative responsibilities
32. Moderator: one who presides over an assembly, discussion, or meeting to monitor adherence to procedures and rules
33. Officer: one who holds a position of responsibility in a company or organization or in a military unit
34. Point person: someone who is the focus of an operation or project
35. Potentate: a powerful sovereign
36. Power broker: an influential person
37. President: one who leads a political entity, a company, or an organization for a fixed term or temporarily presides over an assembly or a meeting
38. Presider: synonymous with chair, moderator, and president
39. Principal: a person in authority, especially one in charge of a school or other institution; also, a leading performer, one who delegates to an agent, or a perpetrator of a crime
40. Prolocutor: one who presides or serves as a spokesperson
41. Rector: a member of the clergy in charge of a parish or another jurisdiction, a leader of some schools or universities, or one who directs
42. Ringleader: a leader of a group engaged in illicit activities or an informal group of compatriots
43. Ruler: a sovereign leader
44. Shepherd: one who leads and protects a flock of livestock or, by extension, a group of people, especially a congregation of worshippers
45. Skipper: the commander, master, or senior officer on a vessel or, by extension, any leader (informal)
46. Spearhead: the leader of an activity, project, or movement
47. Standard-bearer: a charismatic leader of a movement
48. Superintendent: the leader of a school district or another entity; also, the caretaker of a building
49. Supervisor: a leader of an administrative unit
50. Tyrant: an oppressive leader

(This post features offbeat, informal words for “leader.”)

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3 Responses to “50 Synonyms for “Leader””

  • Julie the Jarhead

    Poobah — I usually use this when the other choices sound too ‘officious’.

  • Dale A. Wood

    Hello:
    I was looking up a German word in an on-line German-English dictionary recently. This dictionary said that the word could possibly be translated into “head honcho” – though there were other choices.

    The word is the German word CHEF, which we would have many chices, including “chief”, “boss”, “head man”, and “leader”.
    Since “head honcho” is useful, I guess that “Fearless Leader” might do well, too.
    There are plenty of people who need to know more about THE ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE SHOW, of course.
    That one also has a charcter named “Mr. Big”, and I think that another “Mr. Big” was in the TV series “Sex and the City”.
    D.A.W.

  • waadee

    Seeders – A group of people who sow the seeds for a new project that is going to grow like a beautiful tree.

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