Leadership takes many forms

Posted by: Doc Warren on novembre 13, 2018 11:57 am

An all staff meeting at a transitional living center is being held, the director conducts the meeting surrounded by the folks with a bunch of letters after their names. The way the room is set up there is a clear “us versus them” division. The less-educated, less powerful people huddle in their less comfortable chairs, and the more educated folks not only get to sit closer to the director but have much more comfortable chairs. Printed agendas are plentiful in the “have” section leaving perhaps one printed one for the “have nots.” It has always been this way. No one questions it.

A problem is presented by the director and she asks for feedback on possible solutions. The big chairs come up with a few ideas that miss the mark by a lot. Frustration starts to grow as a quiet voice from the “have not” section proffers an idea that he feels could more than adequately address the issue, would cost nothing and could easily be implemented. In seconds the director dismisses the idea out of hand and moves on after tabling the issue on the agenda.

One of the youngest in the haves section, who has previously worked many jobs in the “have not” section takes pause, considers the idea proffered and then raises his hand to speak, asking to revisit the previous agenda item. He re-presents the previous idea but adds a few “fifty cent terms” and other industry buzz words and the idea is loved, voted in and scheduled to be implemented. The haves hail him a genius and ask him if he has anything to say. He looks directly into the eyes of the “have not” that authored the idea and thanks him personally for coming up with the idea that had evaded the rest. His director speaks over him and reminds him that they voted the have not’s idea down and are implementing his instead. She apparently thought he had become confused. He says something akin to “I’m sorry Tom. I’m sorry that your idea was dismissed without much consideration and I want to thank you for having the insight that everyone else missed. Please understand that there are those that put more weight behind letters after one’s name than they do with good solid ideas. They may not acknowledge you, but I will. I simply took your idea and added some fifty cent words to it and presented it again for you. I believe that good ideas are good no matter the degrees held or job title of the person that came up with it…”

After the meeting the man approaches the have and thanks him. He stated that in all his career that was the first time that anyone had ever stood up for him or gave him the credit when he came up with a good idea. The have simply responds “I’m so sorry it has taken this long but so long as I have a job here I will do all I can to make sure that everyone has a voice. No one is more important than another.” They shake hands and do a one armed embrace. Soon all the have nots are knocking on his door and the atmosphere of the agency improves…

Visitors to a charity see an older man raking stones out of the grass near the drive as part of spring cleaning. They engage in a brief conversation about the weather, the program and what it has to offer. The man discusses how much the program depends on volunteers and how much they are able to get done because of it. The conversation is pleasant and not pushy at all. Eventually the visitors say goodbye and mention that they would like to talk to the director about the program. The man, still raking simply says “you have been for some time now. What can I do you ya?”  He then puts the rake down a bit to discuss the business they had in mind…

A person in a business suit walks around a therapeutic farm appearing a bit confused and more than a little out of their element. A man comes out of a field, hands well-worn and with more than a bit of farm dust on him. Has asks the person if they need anything, are looking for a tour or is there is anything he can assist with. The person dismisses him, ignoring the overture and continues to walk around lost. The “farm hand” returns to his task until finally the “suit” approached him and begins asking questions. He does what he can to answer them. Finally the suit asks for the doctor in charge and is shocked to learn that he has been talking to him for some time now. He explains that as a volunteer based program he feels it is important to lead by example. He feels that he should be seen doing the hard labor as well as his normal job so folks know that every job is important and that no one is truly above another. He gives a small list of chores that he will only do as he would never want a volunteer to be subjected to some of the conditions that he subjects himself to regularly. The suit shakes his head in confusion at first but in time comes to understand. In time, the suit is seen in the field from time to time as well…

A voice over the loudspeaker announces that there is extra food in the executive meeting room and that folks can help themselves. An executive calls down to the administrative assistant’s area and asks them what they like. They reply that they are not allowed to leave their area to which he simply replies that he is aware of that but that he is allowed to leave. He then brings down a large plate of wraps, cookies and bags of chips. They are excited and confused stating that it has never happened to them before. Some of his coworkers chastise him reminding him of his station and theirs. He simply replies “they do so much for me every day, why can’t I return the favor once in a while? Would it kill you to do something nice for someone without it being in your job description? If they don’t do their job well, we can’t do ours. This benefits everyone…”

A lady goes to a local shopping center that requires a quarter for the use of a cart in an effort to increase the carts being returned to the corral (they then get their quarter back) and loads quarters into a dozen or more carts, leaving them for the next batch of customers coming in. It costs little but spreads so much cheer. When asked why she replies “there is so much negativity in this world. If I can make someone smile for as little as a quarter, why wouldn’t I do it?” Seeing the looks on the faces of those that find the carts you can see her point has been well made…

An executive of a local program can’t help but notice a small but determined group of people outside the office protesting. The executive reads the sign but cannot understand the anger or the issue; the signs are unclear. The executive has Tim Horton’s brought out to the protestors with the message that they hope the group is staying warm and well fed. The group is then asked if two or three of the protestors would be willing to leave their signs outside and come into the executive’s office to discuss their concerns. The meeting goes well, the group feels heard and the executive gains perspective that had been heretofore unthought-of.  Though disagreement is still present, a new level of mutual respect is formed. Protestors and workers alike are changed from this interaction; they see that things that may have become heated and involve authorities can also be addressed peacefully and with respect…

There are books and books on leadership, many of which talk of how to reach the top or are directed towards those that already are in positions of power. Some talk of heavy hands in dealing with issues. Some discuss the need to show dominance. To show your power. Others learn that true power needs to rarely show their might but instead show their ability to relate to others, to be real, to simply listen. Whether or not you are a “have” or a “have not” you have it within yourself to make a real and lasting impact on society through your everyday actions. A kind “boss” typically has a kind staff and a happier work environment than an unhappy one but a happy employee can do much to help change the environment of even the most negative workplace (though if they go unheard they typically will leave eventually as we all deserve to be treated well).

What have you done today to lead by example? Have you helped someone that cannot possibly repay you? Have you smiled even when the other person has been rude to you? Have you responded to negative words from others with assertive but kind ones of your own? True leaders need no titles; people will follow them regardless. Be the change.

-Doc Warren

”Doc Warren” Corson III is a counselor, educator, writer and the founder, developer, clinical & executive director of Community Counseling of Central CT Inc. (www.docwarren.org) and Pillwillop Therapeutic Farm (www.pillwillop.org). He is internationally certified as a Counsellor and Counsellor Supervisor in the USA and Canada (C.C.C., C.C.C.-S, NCC, ACS). He can be contacted at [email protected]

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

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