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Leadership (and Management)

One of the more disturbing trends in recent “business-speak” is the tendency to attribute the term “leader” to even those managers who would be incapable of leading a kindergarten class to lunch.

No doubt, this concept came from the “perception is reality” folks who really don’t know the difference. :-) The inability to distinguish managers from leaders has led to a regular cottage industry of people publishing books on leadership (as though you could become a leader by reading a book!). I have had a personal bad experience with this cottage industry, since I read a book on leadership as a requirement of one of my former managers, and I made the mistake of ordering the book through We all know that Amazon never forgets, and despite my deletion of the leadership book from those purchases that should be considered for future suggestions by Amazon, Amazon still sends me suggestions about business “leadership” books.

What does the dictionary say? Merriam-Webster says that “management” is “1 : the act or art of managing : the conducting or supervising of something (as a business).”Leadership,” on the other hand, is defined as: “1 : the office or position of a leader 2 : capacity to lead 3 : the act or an instance of leading.”

Hmmmm. The definitions look pretty different to me. :-) Of course, like the “perception is reality” people, there are those who argue that words can mean what they choose! Humpty Dumpty was one of those folks. In Chapter 6 of the Lewis Carroll book, Through the Looking Glass, we find a conversation between Alice and Humpty Dumpty:

‘When I use a word, ‘ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean–neither more nor less.

”The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you CAN make words mean so many different things.

”The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master–that’s all.’

I have already written that you can meet a lot of Humpty Dumpties in Silicon Valley, perhaps anywhere….

I usually invite such folks to go argue with *gravity* (Note added November 17, 2009: …while leaping from a tall place, for example :-) ), but so far none have accepted the invitation. :-) If they had accepted the invitation, they might have met the fate of Humpty Dumpty, and we could compare their perception with reality.

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

You can view higher-resolution photos (*generally* 7-30 megabytes, compressed) at the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Pro Gallery on Shutterfly™, where you can also order prints and gifts decorated with the photos of your choice from the gallery. Apparel and other gifts decorated with some of our most popular photos can be ordered from the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Store on CafePress®.

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