Everyone is talking about leadership
Leadership is a popular theme for pundits these days. Many of them repeat the quote from (at the time) ex-U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt:
People ask the difference between a leader and a boss … The leader works in the open, and the boss in covert. The leader leads, and the boss drives.
To define a leader as someone who leads is not terribly useful, but the image of the driver is powerful. Roosevelt, a former rancher and cowboy, was not thinking so much of drivers of automobiles as he was thinking of the drivers, or drovers, of herds of cattle. Driving in this sense means forcing a herd to go in a direction it probably would not take on its own. Using the image of the famous cattle drives of old in the western United States, the drovers brought their charges to feedlots for fattening, before being slaughtered, then eaten.
Bosses vs. managers
But, the principal contrast is with the modern manager. This manager follows his or her charges, much like a shepherd. The flock knows what to do without help from the shepherd-manager. For the most part, it will do it effectively and without intervention. A lamb learns the art of being a member of the flock from the other members of the flock, not from the shepherd.
However, if the shepherd sees that the flock is wandering to a dangerous area, it is time to take a leadership role and bring the flock back on course, before retiring back to a position with good visibility of the entire flock. Also, the shepherd gives a helping hand to the ewe having trouble giving birth, to the lamb that has gotten stuck in a bog, to the ram that has become entangled in the thicket. The shepherd and the trusty dog protect the flock from wolves and other predators (especially the wolves in sheep’s clothing).
Learning to be a manager
Whence comes the intimate understanding of the flock and its individual members? Shepherding is not learnt in school, but by being among the flocks and from other shepherds. When the shepherd has understood this and has performed well, the results will be seen in a sustainably larger flock, in the volume of the wool produced and in abundant milk and cheeses (not to mention the occasional lamb chop).
In short, a boss ensures that a team acts as the boss wishes. A manager helps a team to perform as well as it can. Sometimes a manager leads, but most often a manager follows. But that does not mean that the manager is just gathering wool.
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