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Lead from the Start: Learning the Hard Way

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Learning the Hard Way

I have been learning a lot this year as a Child Development Specialist. I am learning that choice is not always a good thing, that expressions of respect can be interpreted as waffling, and that whining is not necessarily a passive expression of felt powerlessness but an aggressive act of resistance.

I think I might be being too nice to the people I supervise. I am being taught by my colleagues, individuals I respect and value as teachers that the more choices I give them, the harder they are going to make it for me to do my job.

I am learning the hard way, sort of like I did with this painting. I finished this painting the first time a year ago. Then, I finished it again with a lot more determination to make it good and not just OK.

The experience reminds me of the urban myth kids would tell each other about a tunnel to China. It goes like this, if you jumped in a tunnel to China gravity would pull you back and forth through the center of the earth until you came to rest in the middle. I guess I am passing through the middle of the earth now. I am pulling away from the collegial approach to supervision that I wanted to approach the position with and being pulled towards a more traditional leadership determined approach.

It makes me sad but, it makes me sadder that my reaching out is interpreted as weakness. I wonder if this is how Obama feels.


At 9:18 PM, Blogger Shennen Dean said...


Great leadership comes from virtue and living righteously. It is a necessary part of leadership to recognize the means by which you can most effectively motivate people. Some people are intrinsically motivated, thus, authoritative leadership is likely to be met with resent. Others are extrinsically motivated and they need you to push a little but not too much. However, I suspect people are a balance of both of these types of motivation. You, as a leader, are charged with reading people and determining which language they will hear and having enough compassion to understand that your own resentment is a reflection of their resentment as well. Sometimes it is good to act and other times it is better to do nothing. If you wait long enough you will know which is best when. If you don't want to lead you don't have to.

I hope you will benefit from my thoughts, for I offer them with no authority other than observation and introspection. I have failed at leadership many times. I have hated and resented being the default leader as well. But I can assure you that if you bring out the whip, so to speak, you only hurt yourself.

At 2:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I am being taught by my colleagues, individuals I respect and value as teachers that the more choices I give them, the harder they are going to make it for me to do my job."

Who said your job was easy?

Why are you giving them choice? Because you believe that choice is important or because you are afraid to stand by a strong belief in one thing? Because you believe they need to feel empowered by being allowed to make choice or because you fear they won't go along with your 1 idea?


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