Bosses vs. Leaders LO5624

Catherine & Jim Campbell (
Tue, 13 Feb 1996 23:50:44 -0700

Replying to LO5527 --

I am intrigued by the discussion of Boss vs. Leader. In conducting
workshops on leadership I find there is an inherent conflict of definition
for those who wish to lead.

The conflict is based on the model/example that the individual is exposed
to as a youth. The characteristics of the model that most people are
exposed to in their youth are:


[Host's Note: This sounds pretty close to the classic def of executive
roles -- to plan, direct, and control...]

The role models that express these characteristics are Parent and Teacher,
both with significant influence in affecting young lives and in providing
an example that many try to emulate as leaders/managers/supervisors.

The Conflict is one of definition. When I ask nominal leaders (usually
owner/operators) to list all the words that they would use to describe
themselves as leaders. Then we discuss who their early and most
significant role models are. Following a discussion of those
characteristics noted above that they provide, the participants begin to
realize that their descriptive words conflict with their role model
characteristics. This excercise is usually enough for them to question
how they can focus more on the leadership description/definition and less
on the pre-existing model.

The constant switching of focus from new definition to role model
approaches creates inconsistency in the view of those they lead. The
participants usually point out that the control, direction and authority
model in it's most negative application(they are not inherently negative)
become very personal in expression (ie blame, ascribing obligation,
admonishing, finger pointing, etc). This latter approcah or expression is
most common at times of difficulty or stress. The pre-existing model
comes off the shelf the easiest, no fore-thought, practice or reflection
is usually required.

We don't often teach or develop people as leaders. In the beginning those
assigned/promoted to the position of leader are given the position
because: they are good at the work they are to lead, they are the only one
interested, they have demonstrated potential for leading and/or can
respond to an existing need bringing others along with them. This
promotion to lead without training and development reinforces the usage of
the pre-exisiting model and perpetuates control , direction and authority
as primary actions rather than the effective results of good leadership.

What is good leadership: Warren Bennis explored this issue and discussed
it in his book 'An Invented Life'. I believe we can learn to be effective
leaders when, as Bennis describes, we begin to move away from managing
(control,direction, and authority) and begin to 'focus on objectives and
values, translate to meaning in the work of the individual, develop
trust/realiability in our relationships, and continue to develop ourselves
in becoming leaders.

Jim & Catherine Campbell        e-mail:
190 Oxford Rd. West                Public Access Internet - via University
of Lethbridge Net 
Lethbridge, Alberta                  Phone & Fax:   (403) 381 3774
Canada  T1K 4V4                      Jim - ENTP     Catherine - ENFJ

"Life-learning: creating new forms, and in turn not diminishing possibilities"

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