board break

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pulling rank or Pulling your weight

If you have to pull rank to get your way, maybe your way isn't all that great.  If the only leg you have to stand on is the fact that you are the Master / Sensei / Sifu / whatever, then maybe you should reevaluate your position.

Leadership should make sense, and rules should have some basis in logic.  Instructors who run their academies by brute force are the lowest type of fake leaders I know.  Insisting on being obeyed, regardless of the validity of one's position, shows weakness rather than strength.

Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee 2011
I am blessed to be part of the Jhoon Rhee International organization.  Every year I am amazed by the example that is set by Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee.  Quite honestly, it's hard to live up to.

You can find numerous categories of leadership styles online, and most of them agree that autocratic leaders are only fit for intense situations where rapid decisions must be made (like the military, for example).  Here's one telling description:

Autocratic leadership is an extreme form of transactional leadership, where a leader exerts high levels of power over his or her employees or team members. People within the team are given few opportunities for making suggestions, even if these would be in the team's or organization’s interest.Most people tend to resent being treated like this. Because of this, autocratic leadership usually leads to high levels of absenteeism and staff turnover. Also, the team's output does not benefit from the creativity and experience of all team members, so many of the benefits of teamwork are lost.  (read more)

While that is clearly written toward corporate management styles, I think the point still applies.

As martial arts schools, we claim to "build confidence, improve self-discipline," and offer more lofty promises. So how does asserting my authority through my rank create anything positive for the students?  Since most students follow our actions, more than our words, exactly what are we creating when we throw our weight around?  We may claim to teach bully prevention, but authority like that just ends up creating more bullies.  Students are going to emulate instructors, for better or worse, and we have a responsibility to set an example that will help them move forward in life.

The premise behind higher ranks is that there is a higher level of understanding, and a higher level of purpose.  If that purpose is just to make an instructor feel like he is super important, then he's feeding his ego.  The standards and protocol in our academies should be public knowledge, and not be affected by whims or bad moods.  Everyone should know what to expect, and never be left guessing about proper procedures for graduations, interactions with instructors and other students, or any of the daily workings of our schools.

We talk about the difference between "discipline" and "self-discipline" in our organization.  It's a lot harder to teach people how to make the right decisions for themselves, but in the long run that's the only thing that students will take away with them.  Discipline only works when someone else is there, watching over a student and making sure they are doing the right thing.  Self-discipline actually does create black belts, but only if they see a living example of that on their journey.

So let's stop pulling rank, and start pulling our weight as leaders, both through our example and through our leadership style.

No comments:

Post a Comment