It has taken me a bit over two weeks to sort out the emotions of my last post; finally I am able to publicly articulate again.
Because the earlier part of this month has been so very (beautifully) emotional, I have found myself still residing in that place that allows for the magnification of emotions. My oneness with everything around me has been at a level that is impressive… even for me. One of life’s realities that has been vibrating at a consistent frequency is this question of intimacy. Now, I am not addressing what we do in our homes (yes… I know some of you do it even outside your homes; naughty!), what I am addressing is the etiquette behind intimacies in those other places where perhaps a more professional form of behavior may be appropriate – like our workplaces, schools and churches. And, I am only addressing those of us in positions of authority, leadership or influence.
Over the years and since attaining a position of management, my remoteness has become a frequent source of bewilderment for those around me. In the hospitality industry, there seems to be an unspoken and expected doctrine that mandates an informality that is inclusive of team-drinking/drugging/partying. An informality that is disregarding of the management-subordinate protocols. An expectation that my personal self, life and loves must be shared after-hours with those that I am charged to govern during-hours. And, vice-versa. A sense of entitlement that demands the knowledge of my real name and a blow-by-blow on each stilettoed step I took to get me here.
Not gonna happen.
I cannot even say, “I am from that school of thought that…” because I am surrounded by peers who blur the lines of influence and authority on a daily (or, is it nightly?) basis. Those supposedly in authority who see nothing wrong with socializing with those they will be called upon to discipline the next day. Subordinates they allow to see them in less-than-flattering lights, oftentimes doing less-than-flattering things while using less-than-flattering language. Becoming embroiled in situations that lessen their positive leadership and authority.
I never socialize with my staff.
I limit my inclusion in their lives to those conversations that can happen in between the responsibilities we are both hired to handle. Sometimes confidences are shared… by them. I treat them with the respect they are due and leave them there. I do not delve into those intimate spaces that may give the impression it would be okay to be reciprocal. I care… and yes I do, without blurring any of the lines. I never forget that at any moment, either during the conversation, immediately after, or tomorrow, it would be my responsibility to manage them. To correct behavior, discipline or fire. I keep the lines clearly defined because it keeps us both in our places.
Naturally I know some of you may disagree with me. In fact, maybe most of you will. You may prefer a more hands-on approach to leadership; leaning more on the side of intimacy. For me, I have found I prefer to be regarded as hard-ass, strict or remote rather than getting so intimate that one of my subordinates can know I actually do have a hard ass! My way will never get me invited to the weekend socials or after-hours hangouts, but it also will never get me accused or sued.
So, this is how I govern. And like most things, I take it all the way. I also like to be governed that way. I was raised to have respect for my elders and my leaders; and the biggest component of that respect is trusting in their ability to guide me. Understanding and accepting that in negating the delicacy in the balance between them and me, I run the risk of diluting the magnitude of what should have passed between us. I never get confused between, friendly and friend. I do not want intimacy in those spaces where information alone should reside. I want to always do my part to ensure not only do I give what is expected of me, but that I get what is due to me. I believe one of the greatest disservices I could do myself would be to corrupt the pure purpose of something or someone that was placed in my life.
It is a very human tendency to in-formalize our relationships; especially of late with social media. (Mostly) gone are the days when our teachers, employers and clergy are referred to by their titles. We have bought into the seduction of Facebook by believing the ‘friend’ part of a friend-request by those who should neither be our friends, peers or contemporaries. The desire to ‘follow’ and the need for attention have blinded us to the appropriateness of our on-line actions. In no way can it be justified that I know the intimacies of those who govern or lead me. And yes… I am saying this as a fifty-one year old woman! There are mystiques that should never be sacrificed for the sake of popularity or intimacy. I am indeed entitled to the care of and respectful access to those I consider my leaders, but my trust in their knowledge, ability and authority should never be compromised in my eyes by their becoming too familiar.
Look back at your lives. If there is (at least) one partner or lover you have had that you know came into your life and should have stayed just a friend, but your need to make intimate that that should have been left platonic dominated and now you have neither relationship… I have made my point. Furthermore, for the life of me I cannot understand why anyone would bother to put in the work to keep on growing and achieving in life, to then continue to tumble back down to those places you left. Isn’t the whole point of achievement to mentor, help and inspire those coming up behind you? How can you pull someone up or forward when you are both standing in the same place?
Everyone says, “Lead by example.” Let’s try it this way (it may resonate more effectively): “Lead. By Example.”