Thursday, September 04, 2008

Brief Blurb on Bad Leadership and Snobbery

This line of thought was spurred by a comment from a friend, not due to anything that's happened to me recently. My friend explained that she was ignored by some high-ranking suits on an elevator and then given suspicious looks when she got off the elevator on the "executive suite" floor with them, as if they questioned her right to be there.

There are certain traits that have always bugged me about people in positions of authority or high social status/position, which is why I try not to emulate them or get into positions of authority (I’m as susceptible as anyone—lead me not into temptation). The things I don't like include:

  • Being ignored as a person because I’m not of the right rank.
  • Being treated as a lesser person because of my position.
  • Being bullied or pushed around unnecessarily simply because someone in authority wants something.

I accept the concept of, and need for, rank in organizations. I even understand the need to expect higher levels of service based on higher prices. However, I’ve always distinguished between the position and the person. It’s the difference between respecting the office of the President, for instance, and not respecting that person's behavior. Or the difference between accepting that “Rank hath its privileges” but that “All men are created equal.” Rank and status are limited social features of a representative republic. We have aristocracies of merit, money, talent, privilege, political power, and aesthetic beauty, but the saner among us realize that those aristocracies are (or should be) limited in scope.

Unfortunately, some people just let the rank go to their head (or worse, let others' ranks go to their head), forgetting that, once off duty, these people have to put their pants on one leg at a time and that, oh yeah, they have to deal with people who don’t know or care what their special rank or power is. I'm not anti-aristocracy, anti-management, anti-leadership, anti-merit, or anti-rank; I'm simply anti-snob.

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