Acting vs Being

I just finished reading an article in the Dallas Business Journal titled Acting like a a ‘Best Boss’ and the only thing I could think about while reading it (and after reading it) was why ACT?  Why not BE?

The article has some great suggestions for ‘acting’ like the ‘best boss’.  These suggestions are:

  • find out what your individual subordinates want
  • keep them informed
  • give them credit
  • say thank you
  • ask their opinions
  • tell them what the company does

Not a bad list.  Some very good things there actually…great advice.

But what perplexes me is the fact that the DBJ (or author?) decided to use the title ‘act like a best boss’ rather than ‘be the best boss’, or even better, how to ‘be the best leader’ (but that’s a different argument altogether…boss vs leader).  Perhaps its just an oversight on the paper or author’s part, but there’s a huge difference between acting like something and being something.

Do you want to work for someone who’s acting like a great boss or someone that is a great boss?

Acting is temporary. Acting is a performance.  Acting like a great boss won’t last because you won’t completely internalize what it means to BE a great boss.

“Being” is authentic….acting isn’t.

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10 responses to “Acting vs Being”

  1. […] Acting vs Being | Eric D. Brown – Technology, Strategy, People … […]

  2. billbennett Avatar


    At the risk of being blown apart, I'm going to disagree with you on this one.

    If I want to be the best manager or leader I can be, most of the time I automatically know the right thing to do. When I don't, I reach into my reservoir of memories and think back to the great managers I've worked for and think “what would they do” then act accordingly. In effect I'm 'emulating' good leadership.

    The first few times around the loop, this may be a little like acting, but along the way I can refine things to fit better with my own personality and values – pretty soon it becomes habit.

    I don't think this need come across as insincere if you are genuinely feeling your way through the problem. In fact, I'd say it's almost the only way to improve management skills.

  3. ericbrown Avatar

    Hi Bill – never worry about disagreeing with me….I'm happy to be called wrong.

    You are correct actually. When learning to be a great boss, project manager, CIO, teacher or anything else, you don't automatically know what to do or how to be. The key for me is how a person takes the information they learn and make it their own.

    What I may not have gotten the point across that well, is that you have to internalize the 'top 10 ways to be a great boss' or the 'best practices for project manager'. If you don't internalize them, you'll never actually “be” the great teacher or CIO.

    Emulation is perfect for learning but you have to take those lessons and make them your own. Make sense?

    Thanks for stopping by and providing some great insight.

  4. @ billbennettnz made me think about "Acting vs Being". He made some good points…what do you think?

  5. jamienotter Avatar

    You nailed it. Finding out what your subordinates want because a magazine told you to is MUCH different than caring about your “subordinates.” The list tells you what to do, but that is never enough. I agree it can be helpful, but I'm looking for more than that these days.

  6. ericbrown Avatar

    Hey Jamie – thanks for coming by.

    Couldn't agree more. As I said in the previous comment…its fine to emulate what others have done but if you can't make it your own and be authentic you'll never stop acting.