Every part of my moral code tells me I shouldn’t laugh at the rude and so politically incorrect plotlines in the cartoon South Park. But I do! My favourite character is the incorrigible Eric Cartman. Click below for a little sample!
Eric is enamoured with authority. The problem of course, is that his lust for power is only with respect to the status of authority and not with the means through which it’s achieved. And there’s a difference, especially when leading a learning organisation.
Authoritarian Leadership – this is Eric’s caper. Swept into power with title and rank, these leaders wield their authority over others. The issue with this punitive response to power is the negative stigma applied to your team members. Chastised often and publicly for being late, a staff member will assume the title for themselves of “The Latecomer”. Once that stigma is assigned and agreed upon, there’s really little left to do but live up to it.
Authoritative Leadership – this is about attaining the status of authority – not via power but by practice. Authoritative Leaders develop highly respectful environments by working with, rather than against, their team members.
Respect is an interesting term, as Eric points out in demanding that we “Respect my authoritah!” . In schools, teachers talk to respectful assessment tasks. You see, it’s disrespectful to give a student a task that you know full well they will fail at. And it’s equally disrespectful to expect completion of a task that you know they’ll achieve 100% on.
Respect isn’t about being overly nice or overly punitive. It’s simply the product of exposure to relationships and environments where high expectations are married with high levels of support, encouragement and nurturing.
Eric had the right outcome in mind. He just needs some rather urgent remedial work on the process.