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What’s a Leader?

When you enter a community gathering place, it’s nice to know what roles the other people there are playing—who’s a visitor, who’s a novice, and who’s a regular. Each of these roles plays a vital part in community life, as discussed in Chapter 4. But often, what you really want to know is, who’s in charge here?

If you attend a Catholic Mass, a Navaho initiation ceremony, or an Elks Club meeting, it’s easy to see who the leaders are because they’re wearing special clothing. In the case of a bouncer guarding a club entrance, or a shopkeeper or bartender behind the counter, their location indicates their status. But the host at a party isn’t so easy to spot, because party hosts don’t (usually) wear a uniform or stand in a designated place. Instead, that person’s role is expressed dynamically, as they welcome guests, introduce people to each other, and deal with problems that arise.


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