Each beginning of the school year is the time of the first parent-teacher meetings. Each parent (well, almost every parent) prepares a financial contribution that must be made to our free education system. Let us see today what the phenomenon of the influence of authority is like. And I will also try to show how the history of the school has a relationship with authority in business and when it is a healthy, well-understood authority, and when it is an artificial shell.
Is your authority at work healthy?
In September I went to my older son's first parent-teacher meeting. I came as one of the last ones, so I sat in the first seat. After discussing the novelties in the school regulations, the most exciting (apart from the fundraising) part of the parent-teacher meeting started, that is ... the election of parents' representation!
I guess this is the most difficult moment for any teacher at the beginning of the year. Because you MUST choose parents' representation - no matter how. And because my son's tutor is an experienced specialist (and probably a good psychologist), she used a very interesting maneuver.
She stated that "the gentleman in the jacket" (that is me!) makes a very good impression and will certainly be able to hold the elections. Then she announced that she did not want to disturb us in these DEMOCRATIC elections and left the classroom, asking for information about when we would finish work.
I looked around the classroom and found that I was the only guy in the jacket. Well, I literally had a moment to get used to the situation. You had to act. A prolonged silence would be unbearable. I am not going to tell you about the whole interesting process that followed. All I can say is that we managed to choose the representation and I became its chairman. I also promised that I would come to each subsequent meeting wearing the very jacket to which I owe this award so much.
The reactions of the people gathered in the room were the most interesting for me in this story. First, as soon as the teacher started talking about the need for an election, one of the parents had to go out for a cigarette right away. Later, when he returned, at a time when the "election" was already underway, he had the most to say, and indeed the most to criticize.
Secondly, when we started our arduous process of reaching an agreement, the people gathered in the room most often talked about those who were not there, that is, the parents who did not come to the meeting. "It's shameful that so few people come to the first parent-teacher meeting."
Fear, insecurity, running away from responsibility, comfort, or maybe just not wanting to get involved in something you don't believe in? On the other hand, it is our own children's school and class. So is it possible to completely separate from it?
The phenomenon of the influence of authority
After some time I thought about the whole situation, and I realized the PHENOMENA OF AUTHORITY INFLUENCE, which I was and a witness and, in a sense, a "victim". In this case, it was the authority of the teaching profession.
It never occurred to anyone to question the idea of choosing a “man in a jacket”. The surroundings and the physical layout of the situation were also contributing. We were at school desks. The teacher at the front, in a place reserved only for her. A typical "ex-cathedral" relationship. For the sake of order, it should also be added that for many people such a turn of the matter was simply convenient because they could have the topic of the election and the whole meeting done as soon as possible.
Where's the relationship with lunch with the boss?
How does poorly understood authority work in the business environment?
Often at work, I observe such a situation when, during lunch with the boss or with the Senior Boss, people who were easy and talkative a moment ago suddenly stiffen and fall silent. They don't know what to say. What lofty matters is it to talk to your boss about? What topic should you discuss in order to do well or not to do badly?
Authority works. But in this case, a badly understood authority.
The boss, and even The_Boss_of_Bosses, is a human being like everyone else. What's more, if he is an easy-going person, during lunch (which is, after all, a break from work, a distraction from problems) he will be happy to talk about "trash", about matters not related to the company.
As an intelligent person, he will also quickly notice those who behave naturally and those who choose the topics of conversation. Because he'll know that if these natural behaviors don't weaken at lunch, they don't weaken in other work situations either.
So I encourage all subordinates not to succumb to the "light of the altars" at work and to stay themselves. An intelligent boss will notice and appreciate it. If he is not intelligent or plays the game, it is not worth adjusting to his rules anyway, because he will use them to his advantage.
I wrote the above text many years ago when my children were still at school (today my older son is already 30 years old). But isn't it still very relevant today? If so, what can we learn from this fact?