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Let’s talk manners

August 10, 2010 Leave a comment

A high school teacher of mine, a man I still respect and see around town every once in a while, once told me what he said was an old quote. I wrote the words down on a scrap of paper then and still have it today, but at that time in my life I did not understand the importance of crediting a quote, so here is to who had the original idea:

“In a social circle where one man is officially the subordinate of another, the superior, if he is a gentleman, never thinks of  it and the subordinate, if he is a gentleman, never forgets it.” – Unknown (even to Google!?)

You can adapt it to be more politically correct and gender neutral if that would be more to your liking. Some of the modern day leadership guru’s will say this sounds like the old command and control model. Maybe on the surface but upon closer examination it is still very true even in the most liberal and and open workplace.

If I want to bring a new idea to my boss, under the rules above I am still free to present it and even argue its merits with her. I must be careful to remain a gentleman and be respectful. If she is following the same rule (gentlewoman?) she would be careful to be respectful of me and my ideas.

Only if I become disrespectful and break the rule will trouble start, if I as the subordinate am disrespectful, I will be reminded. This is not my boss breaking the rule, once I have breached protocol it is now her turn to remind me where I am and put me in my place. For those of you that work for others and do not think you have a “place”, I argue you are totally delusional. You are free to leave an organization if you do not like your “place”, but so long as you choose to work for this person or company that is your “place”, I recommend owning it.

It would be helpful for the new leader to keep this in mind and avoid being arrogant. Remember you cannot complete your work without your people, treat them with respect and they are more likely to respect you. If constantly reminding and mentioning to your employees that you are the boss is the only tool you have to work with, you are doomed to fail. Follow the rule above and develop some other leadership methodologies and you will go far.

Categories: New Leader