Tag Archives: Leaderdship

Boss versus Leader – not so clear cut.

Boss vs Leader

No attribution. No copyright infringement intended. Let me know if it’s your work.


Intuitively, the picture resonates.  We’ve all had the petty-tyrant boss; the person who loves the sound of their own voice and is oblivious to the resentment and de-motivation they’re engendering.

And most of us can relate to the manager who loves to roll up his sleeves and jump in on the line.

But don’t be fooled.  There’s a problem with the scenario that this image paints, especially when it comes to larger teams with significant division of labour:

You can’t fly at 40,000 feet and be on the tarmac at the same time.

If you as the organizational leader are always “hands-on”, who’s doing your job?  To belabor the cheap analogies; if the captain is always in the engine room, the ship’s going to run aground.


Don’t “lord it” over your team.  Challenge them, but don’t be a slave-driver.  Be nice, respectful, sincere, and above all, just.  But recognize that their job is not yours.  They need to be accountable for their role, just as you need to be accountable for yours.

In a pinch, get in the trenches and dig.  But if you need to do that regularly, you’re not doing your job properly; you’re just a very overpaid member of the team.

When it comes to that bromide about being “Hands On”, here’s the rule to follow:

Be hands-on as much as necessary, but as little as possible.

And over time, given that a part of your job as “boss” is to develop your reports, you should be hands-on less and less.  That will be easier if you master the art of delegation.

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Apologies for all the links, hope they weren’t distracting and that you find some of the material useful.

Questions or comments – feel free.







Who’s polishing your apple?

In China they call them “apple polishers”, in Australia, “brown noses”, in Germany, “Arschkriecher”, in England, they’re a “Toady”, and in America a “Kissass”.

The real sycophant, the obsequious report who is an obvious fake, is easy to ignore and will soon be his own undoing.  But when the sucking-up is sophisticated and well-masked, that can be dangerous.  Such a report can lead you well astray.  You treat them as a valued employee, listen to their council, trust them to run their show, all in the mistaken belief that they’re good.  Your line-of-sight to the front line gets distorted, and with it your decisions are compromised.  Meanwhile they’re undermining you at every opportunity.

How to tell when you’re being played?  The man who is obsequious upwards is almost always a tyrant downwards and often a bully sideways.  Watch surreptitiously how they interact with colleagues and reports.  You’ll get the true picture.