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Pieces of Eight


Leadership Focus of Book

By Christine Neff

During successful careers as administrators at East Carolina University, Charles Coble and Henry Peel learned a thing or two about leadership.

This summer, the colleagues penned a book, “Real Bosses Don’t Boss,” (Outskirts Press, Colo.) that offers leadership advice based on their own experiences in the field and their observations of others in management positions.

Peel, the former associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and vice provost at ECU who now directs projects for the University of North Carolina General Administration, said he and Coble realized that “many leaders, otherwise fine and successful people, have tremendous difficulties when thrust into positions of leading other people and organizations.”

A new book by ECU authors offers advice on leadership.

Their book offers 12 principles they believe successful leaders should follow, such as engaging employees in decision-making and encouraging them to take ownership in the organization.

“What we’re saying is a real boss doesn’t boss from on high, doesn’t really command,” Coble, former dean of ECU’s College of Education, said. “You can’t get real change if you’re going to command people to do things.”

Instead, they argue, leaders need to give their employees a vision for success, supporting those efforts while not “bossing” them.

Former employees vouch for the management style. Lola Thompson in ECU’s Academic Affairs said she appreciated how Peel encouraged her professional development and made her a “team player” when she worked as his assistant. “He helped to create an environment where you loved to come to work and you gave it all you had,” she said.

Now, the authors hope other managers, especially those new to the position, will benefit from the expertise they present in their 60-page book.

“We feel that self reflection is a key to successful leadership, and we hope that this little tome will cause folks to reconsider their own actions in an attempt to improve as leaders,” Peel said.

Coble and Peel worked together as dean and associate dean of ECU’s College of Education for more than 10 years.

Coble went on to become an administrator of university-school programs for UNC and, later, served as a vice president for the Education Commission of the States in Denver, Co. He now works for an educational consulting firm he co-founded.

Peel holds the Wachovia Distinguished Chair in the Department of Educational Leadership at ECU.

The book is available online from Barnes and Noble and

For more information about the book, visit

This page originally appeared in the Aug. 1, 2008 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at