Today’s Manager

After training managers in the military for many years, I have met very few managers that are on par.  I consider myself very fortunate to work for one such manager that exceeds the standard.  However, that is not always the case.

There are six different kinds of management styles:

  • Coercive
  • Authoritarian
  • Affiliator
  • Democratic
  • Pacesetter
  • Coach

The best leader uses a combination of all six styles.  I however, use a coaching style and have used that style for years.  Many managers that I know however, tend to use the Coercive/Authoritarian style of management.

I personally do not agree with the Coercive or Authoritarian style of management.  The results that it often produces are not compatible in building a team, and only develop a combative, hostile work environment — one that rewards backstabbing and dishonesty, and only feeds the fan of disloyalty.

The best managers are like the manager I work for.  He tempers his judgement, is willing to communicate, and expects results.  His style fosters and promotes teamwork, collaboration, and harmony in a company. His dress, as well as his mannerisms display a high focus of character, as well as empathy for his suboordinates. This style is very much a coaching style.  This style is indicative of military heroes and mentors — I knew these leaders as people I was willing to lay down my life for, in pursuit of those goals that were set before me.

Unfortunately, that is not always the case in many offices.  For more information on management and leadership styles, follow this link.

The Finer Points of Harassment

Definition

wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

  • a feeling of intense annoyance caused by being tormented; “so great was his harassment that he wanted to destroy his tormentors”
  • the act of tormenting by continued persistent attacks and criticism

My students and I were talking on our break about harassment.  I have three female students; all of whom state that they were victims of sexual harassment.  We also talked at length about hostile work environments.

I have been the victim of all kinds of harassment over the years.  Since I am of Amerasian descent, I never seemed to fit into any kind of racial category.  I am an amalgam, in a country of those who, like their forebears “were kicked out of every decent country in the world”.  When I was young, I seemed to fit into a category that many women deemed “exotic”.  Now, I am one of so many who are a plethora of races all balled up into one body.  Yet, I am still dealing with occasional harassment in the workplace.

What I find fascinating, is that when I was in the service, I created teams.  My job was to take the sweaty nineteen year-old young manager, who only knew how to yell at his peers, and turn him into a bona fide manager — one who watched over his flock like a caring shepherd, his other eye always on the lookout for anyone who tried to disrupt his territory. 

I hear the horror stories of many small busineses today, where the owner is condescending, bitter, paranoid, or even manages through intimidation.  In the case of a business where one is subjected to a person with a coercive management style, what can be said about such a manager?  Or for that matter, a person who acts in such a way?  A good manager is one who fosters respect.  I have a perfect example in mind…I only wish I could give you his name in this blog.

Standing Out Like a Sore Thumb

I was going to write about about harassment and discrimination today, but instead decided to write about how we sometimes stand out like a sore thumb.

Now just what do I mean by that statement?  Well, I am talking about how a person can often stand out from the crowd, either in a bad way or a good one.  I personally like to remain anonymous, so that I am not noticed (yet, here I am, journaling in a blog for the whole world to see).  I draw a lot of attention to myself.  But, I make a concerted effort not to stand out in a bad way.

Anyway, I do apologize.  I am very tired, and am ready to turn in.  I will update my blog tomorrow with my original post regarding what my students and I discussed on break today: harassment and discrimination.

Profiling: The Way we Judge Each Other

Today, my students and I discussed another topic on break: profiling.

As a writer, I take a great interest in how a story moves.  Funny thing is that we profile our characters whenever we start a fictional piece.  We begin the in much the same manner as a person profiles another person.

We look at the way the character dresses first.  Some of us look at the way the character grew up.  We develop a manner of speech that the character uses, patterns that develop into personality traits.  Some writers look at skin color, to determine whether or not the character will react a certain way in certain situations.  Writers look at personality flaws in the character.  Personality flaws are very important to us, since flaws are what add interest to the character, make the character come alive.

A great example of a profile could be the way I wrote this article.  I could have, for example, written my list of character flaws as bullets rather than sentences.  Perhaps my resolve in not creating my list as a bulleted list demonstrates that I am not organized.  Or, perhaps that I do not have the writing skills to even attempt to create a bulleted list.

Profiling is what we do to each other every day of the week.  We profile to determine whether or not this person will fit in our job, if we are looking for more people to fit into the corporate culture we have created.  We profile to figure out if this person is a fit for us in becoming an acquaintance, or even a friend.  We profile to decide whether this person is worth our time by initiating a conversation with them.  Some of us even profile a person to ascertain whether or not they should be allowed to walk the streets, let alone sit on a bench, waiting to catch a bus.

So why did this conversation come up in the first place?  Because we were discussing the racial and gender profiling that took place in the sixties, and still takes place today.  Age discrimination is rampant in companies – it is the young against the old – oh, their Human Resources staff will deny it, but just how stupid or naive do they think we are?  We even help others profile ourselves by the way we dress, the way we carry ourselves, and the way we talk.  Oh, we try to keep our opinions to ourselves, muttering occasionally in our cliques…generally.  But when the votes are tallied and the books are closed, we still profile.

Is “Idiocracy” on the Rise?

I just finished watching a movie called “Idiocracy”, a story about the downfall of our nation which mimics the current state of our country today.  In the movie, the people who have a boatload of children, are those who are not educated, passing on their philosophy of life, their genes, and their unwillingness to learn to their children.  Meanwhile, those of us who are imbued with a modicum of intelligence slowly push ourselves out of the gene pool, not bearing any children because our lives become so busy, we just don’t have the time for children, or are unable to have children.

In looking at the budget cuts in education, I wonder if the legacy of the movie is coming true.  Is “Idiocracy” a prophecy of times to come, or will we suddenly become imbued with common sense?  Training for companies is always the first thing to be cut.  It is evident that education is going in the same direction.  Sports, the national pastime has replaced theater and the arts in school.  In fact, the arts has been cut indefinitely from the budget of many a school.

What is happening to us?  What has happened to the pursuit of knowledge and artistic endeavor?  Are we slowly debasing ourselves to a doomed existence, barren of any kind of culture?

Perhaps the movie is right.  If our culture continues on its path, we will become a nation of idiots.  The next 500 years will tell.  My hope, is that there will be someone alive 500 years from now, that will have the intelligence to read my stories, understand, and enjoy what I have created, without the need for pictures to spell out what I have written…

Moving in new directions

It isn’t often were given a chance to move in a direction.  Half the time you’re stuck in a rut wondering if you’re making the right choices.  Should I turn here or there, did I say the right thing, am I making the right decisions?  These are the questions constantly plague us.

I find that all the time I’m writing, I am not sure if I’m moving in the correct direction that my characters to go.  I often find myself stymied by dialogue that does not work, or actions that do not fit my character.  But unlike real life, I have the opportunity to change my character’s life.  It is a shame that we cannot snap our fingers and change a decision that we made, be it good or ill.  But perhaps, in creating our stories, we are given a chance to stride willingly and sometimes even blindly into situations that we could never face the real world.

It is the purview of the writer to encompass situations, directions and decisions that we would normally not make.  For it is the decisions of our characters often make them heroes in the eyes of our readers.

Is Our Culture Dying?

Today my students and I talked on a break about the downfall of our race.  Not any specific race in particular, but the human race.  And how did we gauge such a dramatic conclusion?  By focusing on the untenable proposition that our world culture is becoming debased in a kind of moral and cultural turbidity bound by violence, an anticlimactic downturn of education, and the inability of our young to acknowledge their shortcomings.

Are we right?  Perhaps it was conversation based solely on personal observations, even our reflections of ourselves.  Whatever the case, I am sure that no matter what happens to us as a race.  The world will go on…with, or without us.

The Creative Process

After talking to my students on Friday, it dawned on me that as a creative individual, our minds are cued by different emotions, feelings, and structure.

Structure is an important part of the creative process. It is an amalgam of decisions and actions that ultimately swing us in the direction that we want to move. For some of us, the movement may look sideways to the casual viewer. But to us, we are making a forward movement in the direction of our creative goal (whatever that may be.)

So, if you are feeling stuck. Remember that structure is what is pushing you in the direction that you must move. It is structure that gives you that feeling of movement, forward, backward, or sideways. Therefore, whether you feel that you are moving laterally, think that perhaps, just perhaps it is the direction you need to move, in order for you to feel that you eventually are moving forward.

Once Upon a Life…

My students and I were caught up in a lunchtime conversation today, that continued once I finished up the class.  We talked about our pasts, how they have changed us, and how we have changed because of our environment.  Our talked spurned another thought — how we as writers can allow environmental changes to alter our characters, or not alter our characters.

My life has been a very colorful life.  I don’t know if I can say it was filled with danger, or even if it was one of those lives that people consider tough.  Tough is what we make of life.  It can be hard or easy, it all depends on the path that we walk.  As a fiction writer, I was taught the number one lesson of writing fiction: Keep getting your characters into trouble.  It is amazing how trouble moves the story along.  Danger, death-defying acts, heroism, humor, or “peppy” dialogue keeps the story running.  Heck, I was retelling my life, and keeping my monologue running for my students.

Perhaps one of these days, one day very soon, I will retell one of those days.  Perhaps, over a period of time, you will be able to see what makes a writer an author, or an author a best-selling author.  Only time will tell…

I’m Late…

Well, I have committed the ultimate sin of sins.  I have not been updating my blog because I allowed personal and professional pressures get in the way of updating my blog.  As Poe once mentioned, “Nevermore, quoth the raven”.  From this point forward, I will be updating my blog with continuous content, one way or another.