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I’ve been contemplating my passive interventionist approach to leadership these last few days. My ‘method’ loosely put is that I don’t like to take the lead from the outset in any endeavour. There are always those who see themselves as in command, or have done the necessary work or effort to deserve command out of a sense of seniority, and so I prefer to take up a number two position . This perhaps ties into my belief that real power often accrues to those who are the men behind the throne, although often they can bear the brunt of failure as well.

More often then not though, the situation is dynamicly leaderless due to it being social or haphazardly organised (class group presentation) and I take charge out of a sense of frustration. I start passive if I can afford it, letting people run their arguments and ideas together to get a sense of all the possibilities that the discussion can head down so that we have an appreciation of the full spectrum of opportunities available for us.

I find this awareness of the full spectrum tends to bring progress to a rather grinding halt. The more possibilities people find, the more scope for error there becomes and the more averse they become to advocating any specific course. This is usually my niche, for I’m very good at advocating a particular path to proceed down, without finding myself prone to prevarication.

I recall reading an anecdote, probably somewhere on Slashdot, where a person was relating that they had gained a promotion becuase they were a good decision maker. This they were told, didn’t mean that they made right decisions or that their decisions were the best possible decisions, but that they took decisions with the best mix of timelyness and effectiveness and that the decisions were well done as decisions, as opposed to the brilliant resolution of the current dillema. The notion being conveyed was that you can be taught what the best decision in a given set of circumstnaces is, but you cannot be taught how to find that decision, how to make that decision and how to abide by them.

I get very quickly frustrated at the circular discussions that can quickly develop amongst people who are not able to agree on any position or agree on what position they hold. I see it always as quick rational analysis of what position to hold, what its key arguments are, what peripheral points can be negotiated and how sustainable the position is overall. All that’s then left is trading these jigsaw pieces around until everyone has a puzzle that they enjoy the sight of. Not difficult, not complicated and there really is no need for it to be time consuming.

I find that this style of decisive leadership has two results. Firstly people are quite greatful that someone is making a decision and they tend to agree with what I’ve suggested unless there is another person with strong views and a reasoned case, in which situation me and that person usually hammer out a compromise that is acceptable to him and therefore to all. The second is that people tend to resent it, because (I speculate) that it seems to be overly efficient and too ruthless in preening their ideas and contributions to make them fit into a coherent model that deals with the problem we actually have, rather then the problem they want to have.

I’m not sure I’m willing to change it, though I’ve made efforts to involve others more and to keep soliciting their feedback on a more continuing basis especially to make sure that the solution is still functioning rather then a paper plan. But at the same time I’m averse to mindlessly reviewing decisions we’ve already made without there actually being any new information that would justify such a review, and I get irate when people attempt to waste time doing this..

A delicate balance to be sure, and one that I shall have to strive to be more concious in maintaining.


One Comment

    • md
    • Posted December 10, 2006 at 5:31 pm
    • Permalink

    your post is interesting (and timely), given that i am just finishing up my group projects. i think i am one of those who can take a position, but then get totally freaked out that i haven’t covered every other position possible :p in fact, one of my team mates told me off for endless questioning. the funny thing is that i didn’t realize it until it was brought up.

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