Tuesday, April 15, 2008

discussion about a topic that is talked to death: Leadership

One of the leaders at my work just came up to me.
Clinton: “Shannon, I need you to work an hour (later than scheduled) tomorrow. Which would you prefer to work? 4-5pm or 5-6pm?”
Hmmmm. Let me think. Of course, I picked the earlier option. I had plans for the afternoon that included a bike and a rocky dirt trail at a nearby park. Then I heard my boss talking to himself as he walked away.
“Good, I’ll work from 5-6.”
Immediately, I wished I had picked the later time.
‘Wait! I will work from 5-6,” I called after him.
Yet, he insisted. He would work the later shift.
He didn’t have to ask me. He is in charge of the schedule and could have assigned me a time. But he did ask.
I think all of the staff I work with would undoubtedly agree. That Clinton is a great leader.
None of us would quail from completing a task he asked us to do. We can trust his character and know that he is the one who never shirks from doing a job harder than the one he is asking us to do. I have seen his selflessness numerous times. He has earned my respect as a leader.

I think respect is important for a leader. I have a hard time submitting to a leader I don’t respect. In fact, my behavior turns downright rebellious.
What I’m trying to determine...is if this tendency is a good or bad thing.

In some ways, I think it is a bad thing. There are authority figures in our lives that we should follow. If we don’t want to loose our job, we need to adhere to the orders of our boss. When we were teenagers (I can’t believe I am admitting this now) we needed to listen to our parents. Most hormonal teenagers aren’t the best judges of authority. With a few exceptions, our parents really did know that being home the night before a test was better than staying out until 2 am. Even if I was just innocently spending time with my friends.

Some institutions/occupations (dangerous jobs, fireman, police men, armies, I guess) can’t function without rigid rules and complete submission to authority without question. Lives hang in the balance. One miss-step could lead to disaster. I can only wonder...
who would want to be in that leadership position?

Civil War generals decided which regiments marched into the face of enemy muskets first. Those men would march their last step. Would they take those orders without a whole-hearted respect for their general? If their general displayed laziness, or never kept his details straight, would they have followed the order? Maybe this is a bad example, because they really didn’t have a choice. Leaving the field of battle without authorization meant receiving a bullet for desertion. I guess...the “cause’’ of the war factors into a battle situation and not just the leader. So perhaps I digress. But I’m sure a respected general’s troops were more productive.

Back to the main subject.

Is respect a requirement for a leader? Or am I totally wrong when I grow rebellious?

Questions I have pondered this week...due to a discussion with a friend...in which we did not agree. What do you think?

As an ending note... the respect I have for a friend is different than that for a leader. Leaders must earn a more demanding respect than people I love to hang out with!


Mike said...

i'm a huge believer that leaders EARN respect from the people they lead. for example, is someone were to come to me and tell me they are a general and then start barking orders, i probably wouldnt do it with as much grit as i would for someone who works beside me and leads me in a way that respects me as well.
Respect can be a two way street and a leader has to realize that. if clinton had told you what time to work instead of asking your preference, he would not have been respecting your time. and in turn, your respect for him led you to be willing to switch because of the sacrifice he was taking.

clinton is a great man. i would follow him into war. great post shano banano

Mike said...

i also believe they need to be excellent communicators. that is another word beat to death, but its so vital in the manner in which leaders speak to us. are they inviting, condescending, brutally honest, unapproachable, nervous, thoughtful, harsh, etc.

that is a huge ordeal that we've all learned from.