This paper presents a theory of the leadership process within the particular substantive setting of a large government bureaucracy. The study organisation (labelled AGRO) possesses a dominant engineering culture and has a history characterised by non- tumultuous change. The research methodology of orthodox grounded theory was employed. The main concern of the participants was found to be a desire to close the gap between their current work reality and that level they perceived themselves to be capable of achieving. This was resolved through the basic social process of Minimising Attainment Deficit. Leadership aspects of charisma and vision where not evident in this substantive setting.