How many of you love being in interactions when people have strongly opposed views? How many of you thrive in conflict, and remain spontaneous and creative. Or are you more likely to become defensive, and let your fears and anxieties dominate?
I have met only a handful of leaders who love working with conflict. I have worked with many who do not, and those who do their best to avoid it, or ignore the intensity in conversations.
Currently, I am transcribing some letters by Dr G Max Clayton. Max inspired me to work with groups. With the first letter I transcribed, he writes descriptively of the worries leaders have such as will I hurt people? Will I be able to take initiative? He outlines possibilities for people and their motivations to have a good working relationship with authority. How many of us really consider this possibility? Do we even want to be creative and spontaneous in the face of ‘authority’? Is our preference to fight, to have our own way, to reject authorities and to want to dominate using ‘our way’.
There are plenty of opportunities in our own organisation, country, and the world to observe people’s relationships with authority.
Max taught me that some people learn by fighting. If you say go left, they will head off to the right. Others are compliant learners. This works well say in training registrar surgeons. You don’t want them to be creative and innovative as they begin operating. You would want them to be able to follow specific directions. Then there are spontaneous learners, learners who are creative and innovative, and who create new pathways taking others with them. They are not competitive. They add greater value to the group or organisation.
With the anti-vax protestors in Wellington last month, I was aware of the strong negative relationship they had to authority – particularly the politicians who decided Aotearoa New Zealand’s covid strategy, the police, and to the residents of Wellington who were 95%+ vaxed. The anti-vaxers wanted to fight authorities; they criticized, blamed, disputed, and disrupted. I did wonder where they had learned to fight authority, to resent, and reject authority, be angry, and do things ‘their way,’ regardless of their impact on others’ lives.
What are other options with relationships with authority? What explains why so many New Zealanders chose to be vaccinated? Are we unthinkingly compliant? Is that our orientation to authority? I don’t think so. My take on the high vax rate was that many of us co-operated with authority, we trusted the science, and could see that being vaxed guarded both ourselves and those we are close to from the severity of the Covid-19.
What is the orientation to leaders in your organisation? Are staff able to respond to direction, not just react? Do they bring spontaneity into their interactions with leaders, and take the organisation willingly into new directions? And how might you create a culture of innovation so staff are creative in their interactions with authority?
© Diana Jones