Bosses vs. Leaders LO5651

Ben Granade (
Thu, 15 Feb 1996 09:39:34 -0900

After reading the opinions on Bosses and Leaders over the past few weeks,
I would like to reiterate a position I gave about a year ago on a similar

I view leadership as a fuzzy-set relationship of influence between two
people or groups. In this regard, leadership is both discernible and
measurable. I also view leadership as amoral, in that people or groups
that we like or dislike each exhibit leadership. By this understanding,
leadership is a term as easily applied to the street-gang leader as to the
corporate CEO or the Republican Party.

I like to make the analogy between electricity and leadership. They are
both powerful forces that can be used for good or ill depending on the
nature of the user and the intent. Each can also be characterized by
qualities or traits. Electricity has traits such as charge, voltage and
amperage, where leadership is composed of traits such as communication,
values and vision.

How leadership is exercised in any relationship determines the character
of these various traits, and the overall effectiveness of the leader. As
an example, Adolph Hitler was an effective leader, but the traits that
defined his leadership are ones we find abhorrent.

In today's corporate culture we appear to respond to business leaders that
are dedicated and kind coaches, but the leadership values that were sought
in corporate America in the not so distant past were the ruthless and
uncaring task masters. In this regard, Bosses were, and are, a form of
leader...thankfully, one that is becoming more and more ineffective in our
work environments. However, the "boss" may still be the leader of choice
in the street gang or other relationships.

This view of leadership allows for exploration of the entire spectrum of
relationships rather than the reduction to polar opposites. In this model,
the fuzzy set of leaders called "bosses" are somewhat toward the end of
the leadership continuum marked by "dictators" and "autocrats", whereas
the fuzzy set of "leader" that has been characterized in this thread are
more towards the end represented by "learners", "coaches" and
"facilitators". And, in that leaders reflect back on to us our own values,
I think this is a wonderful indicator of positive change.

Ben Granade, CQA
Management Analysis Officer (907) 343-4554
Municipality of Anchorage, Alaska

If you're not having're not doing it right!

-- (Ben Granade)

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