Ground-Truthing: Boss-Worker, Mentor-Learner, Leader-Follower-Citizen Thought Experiment 4.1.3

Consider authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and passive as patterns of leadership in many of our human activities.  Experiment with changing the words parent/teacher to boss or supervisor or CEO, mentor, guard, or police, captain, bureaucrat, or mayor or president–and then change the words child/student to worker, learner, prisoner, soldier, or citizen.  [See #42, #43, #47]

What do you think about these ideas when you first see them in a new context?  What is the difference between authoritative and authoritarian leaders?  What about their followers?  Sometimes people who are permissive or passive end up in leadership positions.  What do you think happens to their followers or their organizations?

Children learn how to parent by watching their parents in action.  Students learn how to teach or coach by watching their teachers or coaches in action.  Workers learn how to supervise by watching their supervisors in action.  Soldiers and citizens learn how to lead by watching their leaders in action.  Who is watching and copying you right now?  What are the principles we want to pass on to the next generation of parents, teachers, supervisors, and leaders?  Authoritativeness, authoritarianism, permissiveness, passivity?

Shall we be affectionate and engaged? Set limits and enforce consequences? Use reason, logic, and appropriate negotiation?  Shall we be bossy?  Use physical punishments or verbal insults? Dismiss others’ feelings?  Shall we be anxious to please?  Indulgent?  Easily manipulated?  Shall we be emotionally removed or indifferent?  Uninvolved?  Abdicate discipline?  Be inconsistent and unpredictable?

For better or worse, we are the example of what the future will probably look like.

Phyllis Ballata

Without Words We Cannot Think

“In Germany [the Nazis] came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.  Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.  Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.  Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.  Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up.”   Pastor Martin Niemoller (1892-1984)


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