Perceptions – and management behaviours

A few posts ago I wrote about not judging books by their covers, and today I’m thinking again about the same sort of thing – but this time in the workplace.

As managers it is incumbent upon us to demonstrate those leadership and managerial qualities that we wish to develop and engender in those around us, but how many times have we all seen others act in a way which they would not tolerate from their reports?  This shows a lack of respect in one direction, and a creates loss of it in the other.

The hit comedy “Yes, Minister” made fun of this type of double standards behaviour by referring to it as an irregular verb, for example:

  1. I have an independent mind; you are an eccentric; he is round the twist.
  2. I give confidential press briefings; you leak; he’s being charged under section 2A of the Official Secrets Act.

Whilst this is in the context of a television sitcom, it shouldn’t detract from the important characteristic being lampooned, and one of the aphorisms we all learned as children: “do to others as you would be done by”. 

Not everyone is born as a natural leader, and some only have people follow them out of a sense of morbid curiosity.  Leadership can be learned and encouraged, and people will want to follow a leader who has their respect – this time neither a carrot nor a stick are required!

So my question to ponder for the day is: what positive behaviour trait do you most admire from your leaders, and how can you emulate that to achieve similar respect?


Self-defence, shooting burglars, and sexual harassment

BurglarA headline caught my eye recently: “No charges for Oklahoma teen mother who called 911 to ask permission to kill burglar“.  The story is about a woman who called police to ask if she could shoot an intruder if he entered her home. He entered; she killed him with a shotgun.  In a country where gun ownership is prevalent, and in some communities even encouraged, you would think that would be a deterrent to burglars and other intruders.  But with 215 justifiable homicides in 2009, it would seem not.

But what is a deterrent? The death penalty? Abolition of hanging in the UK didn’t appreciably increase the murder rate, and death row is overflowing in the USA.

Perhaps people living in a great environment are less inclined towards crime? The government of the Seychelles would disagree,

Fear of being caught maybe? Anecdotal evidence suggests that, rather like Norman Stanley Fletcher, imprisonment is simply viewed as an occupational hazard – and for some even an educational opportunity.

So, if there is no adequate deterrent, should we be allowed to shoot burglars – or, in the UK where we can’t own guns, perhaps politely berate them with golf club? Continue reading


Chinese buffet

Yesterday I saw this picture on facebook and it appealed to my sense of humour – especially as I have seen some rather large diners in American buffets.  By large I mean twice my size and then some.  But I also see these diners leaving food uneaten and then going back for more – often of the same thing they have just left to go cold.

So, this morning in the hotel restaurant, I had a look around to see if I could identify any stereotypes or strange behaviours.  I don’t want to point the finger, but some nationalities are immediately identifiable (each item is from a different group), and other actions just struck me as a bit odd:

  1. everything very neat – knives and forks places together and parallel
  2. cutlery discarded almost randomly across the plate
  3. more food left on the plate than I actually ate!
  4. trying to open the alcohol fridge to have wine with breakfast
  5. taking the only bottle of ketchup from beside the food to their table

Wish I could have taken some pictures without being wholly obvious.

What other strange behaviours have you seen when peoplewatching at breakfast?

Judging books by their covers

A couple of weeks ago I had a limo collect me and take me to the airport, and a chat with the chauffeur got me to thinking about how we read people.

A few years earlier (probably in his early twenties), the driver had immigrated to the USA from Haiti only to find that his civil engineering degree and work experience wasn’t recognised – and so his first job was as a night-shift supervisor in a parking garage.  He said that on his first shift he had cried all night – and then decided to go back to University to get a recognised degree and start again.  Parking garage supervisor led to taxi dispatcher at JFK, and then to being a limo driver – and part-time study at a New York college.

I hope he makes it – but his story made me wonder: if I had seen him on his first or second night in the garage, would I have just mentally written him off as a deadbeat in a dead-end job?