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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by whatever View Post
    it's not because I like to be in control though- it's because I want my way!
    That's a subtle distinction!

    Episodic control to achieve a specific goal as opposed to enjoying exercising control for its own sake, I guess.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by CzeCze View Post
    FineLine, didn't you say you were in the Marines (or did I mix you up with someone else) Because, you that totally makes sense your 'can't be the nice guy' school of management.
    Yep. Seven years in the Marines, and about five of those years as a sergeant responsible for troops.

    Learning how to be a small-unit leader in the Marines was an eye-opener. The environment was tough. It was important to give the troops maximum freedom and encourage them to use their own initiative; I couldn't keep track of all of them simultaneously. So I had to learn lots of delegation of command and responsibility. But at the same time, structure was needed. And if I shied away from providing that structure (which I did initially), the troops knew I was abdicating an important part of my responsibilities and took advantage of it; it was the Marines, after all--no mercy for the weak!

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    There seems to be a range of boundary expectations. In authority there are many who assume the leader is there to control the behaviors of the subordinates. They expect to be pressured and structured externally. Then there is another assumption where the subordinate is self-motivated and the leader provides direction. That second model is what I understand best. It can be difficult to switch mindsets when one is deeply ingrained.
    I agree with you in that I enjoy a professional environment where subordinates are self-motivated and I can exert as little control as possible. Ideally I would prefer to serve in more of a mentor capacity. But those ideal jobs seem few and far between.

    Besides, especially with younger people as subordinates or students, not everyone responds the same way to the same environment. Some young people really do need structure to feel comfortable; others have a natural urge to compete, and they really do need some boundaries drawn or they'll abuse it. And so on.

    Ultimately I aim for assertiveness, rather than "control" in the worst kind of anal-retentive sense of the word. And flexibility is key--different subordinates need different things from a boss or a leader. Again, that's where negotiation and communication come in handy.

    I'm not against a low-control mode of leadership. For some subordinates and work environments, low-control really is the best way to go. Usually the general rule is that you want to give subordinates as much freedom as they can handle. You don't want to spend every minute of every day riding herd on them. It gets tiring.

    But a low-control style can also be a trap if we try to apply it where it's not meant to be applied. Your OP asked if there was any downside to non-control. You're good at non-control because it suits your personality type (and mine too). But it has its limitations. Basic assertiveness skills are important too, at a minimum, so that we have some flexibility to operate in environments that don't suit our natural skills.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maverick View Post
    It's true that in certain situations you are required to provide structure as part of your job/role and there can be detrimental consequences if you don't. Importantly, you are required to provide a type of control that is overt, by defining objectives and roles of people.

    Some people fear appearing openly controlling or rigid. I suppose they feel guilty when they do so. The problem is if they decide, as a substitute, to use manipulation to get people to do what they want instead of asking directly. In this sense, the college professor could be nice with the students that listened and more disagreeable with the students that didn't. Or give time to students that worked hard and ignore those that didn't. Without explaining to them openly. At one point or another people afraid of being openly controlling will be so covertly. You simply cannot interact with other people without accepting some part of control.

    There is nothing more important than a clear, defined and communicated structure. When people know what is expected of them and what will happen under what conditions, they feel more secure and perform better. People need structure. Only the most independent of people are able to function without structure. Most would invariably feel lost.
    Yeah, great points.

    I like the one about the college professor trying not be controlling but ending up being manipulative instead. When I was first promoted to sergeant in the Marines, I didn't want to give direct orders. Many of my subordinates were also my friends and drinking buddies in off hours. So I tried asking, negotiating, calling on personal favors, calling on them to show loyalty, etc. But they knew how to get around people in command (and so did I). Once I was in command, it became the same old cat-and-mouse game between leader and reluctant subordinate. And the longer I refused to give them direct orders, the more manipulative I had to become to get things done.

    So eventually I just got angry at them, wised up as to what the situation needed, started giving direct orders, and everything turned out fine. Once we all got used to the new roles, we all even remained friends and drinking buddies.

    A lot of it's just about expectations. As you described in the last paragraph of your post, people don't like uncertainty. They don't want to have to figure out the weird quirks of each new leader. A low-control style is going to be foreign and uncomfortable for some subordinates. If you throw a lot of unexpected change-ups and curve balls at people, they tend to get irritable and nasty. Better to stick to the tried-and-true roles: Everyone knows their places, knows what to expect, and people feel reassured by the stability and predictability.

    And beside, traditional leadership roles exist because they're effective. They actually work. So why re-invent the wheel? Better to just buckle down and learn what's already been proven to work.

  5. #25
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    Toonia, much of that OP could easily describe me... but of course there's a dangerously fine line between "non-controlling" and "passive". I have a real hard time judging sometimes when it's actually right to be passive and when it's not.

    However, I think the difference between legitimate assertiveness and actually being a control freak, would be in the motivation and inspiration for the controlling act.

    What I mean is that if you are trying to alter the course somebody takes, because you personally don't like or approve of where they're currently headed, to my mind that's controlling and toxic. But if you're helping to steer somebody at their request towards a goal they've stated a desire to reach, then you're helping them.

    Sometimes the latter requires assertiveness. Both for your own rights/dues and their goals, to be achieved/obtained. For example, if a person loves you and wants to help make you happy, then part of that entails being told when you're not. A loved one might desire to change themselves, if they were to know that their current behaviour hurts you. It may be behaviour that they themselves don't like, but as yet have insufficient inspiration or motivation to curb, and the knowledge that it's hurting someone they love may give them that inspiration they need to move another notch towards being who they want to be.

    Also, you could think about the type of change that you're attempting to affect. Is it a change of their entire personality (bad!)? Or is it a natural evolution/step of growth for who they already are?

    That's the best I can give you at 9.30 in the morning... when I really should be getting ready to hit the office!

    But I sympathize very much with your problem Toonia, for me it's the hardest part of all about being a parent... when to put a hand to the rudder of my children's lives and when to let them steer it themselves! I think perhaps the key would be to check whether they are steering, or just drifting... maybe that's when they need another hand... perhaps if the waters are bit too um, turbulent their hands might not be 'firm' enough... gach... me and my analogies!!
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  6. #26
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    Oh no wait, I do have something else...

    Remember that one of the worst things about being a P is those "errors of inaction" we make out of fear of action, itself through fear of acting without all the right information. Consider how close dealing with somebody who 'holds out' and hides their thoughts, opinions and feelings, can affect a strong P by sending them into a downward spiral of indecision and inaction...

    I (hypothetical I) need to know whatever you (hypothetical you) have to tell me. How I take it, how I act or not act on it, is my choice and not your responsibility. Holding out through fear of controlling people can be just as counterproductive to someone's natural learning curve/development as being too controlling. If somebody makes the wrong choice for themselves due to pressure from outside - whether that pressure was warranted or not, and where their anger/castigation should be directed (at themselves or at the other person) and where the blame for the mistake - that's something that everyone has to learn to be able to discern as they grow and mature.

    Personally (and I think I speak for many people but especially most P's) the idea of having to "push back" against an attempt to control me is nowhere near as horrible as the idea of failing to act when I should, or of making some other mistake, due to not having sufficient information. Especially when that's information I could've had, if someone hadn't been holding back on me.

    I'd rather err on the side of "TMI" than give someone that feeling of walking on eggshells whilst using all six senses, to avoid hurting or disappointing a pathologically passive person!!
    Ils se d�merdent, les mecs: trop bon, trop con..................................MY BLOG!

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  7. #27
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    It's so interesting to read this, especially right now. Because I want things to be ordered and appropriate, everyone (including me) seems to think that I want to control people. But I've discovered I really don't, and it's causing me some problems in teaching high school.

    I really expect other people to police themselves and keep themselves under control, doing the right thing at the right time. I'll remind them if necessary, but after that I'm reluctant to take harsher measures. I want to give them every opportunity to do what's appropriate on their own initiative. When they continuously neglect or refuse to do this, it makes me angry because they're disturbing and disrupting the ordered flow of the classroom.

    It shouldn't make me angry, I know. The fact that this is my initial reaction aggravates me all the more.

    I want to discuss this more; I'm very curious to find out more about my own reactions and reasons for them so that I can manage my classroom better. My students are coming in now and I have to go, though. I'll check back later.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by substitute View Post

    Remember that one of the worst things about being a P is those "errors of inaction" we make out of fear of action, itself through fear of acting without all the right information. Consider how close dealing with somebody who 'holds out' and hides their thoughts, opinions and feelings, can affect a strong P by sending them into a downward spiral of indecision and inaction...
    A concept that I've seen work for many people is to make a decision once you've got about 60% of the information. The idea is that with this distribution you'll make the right decision most of the time and you'll do it quickly.

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    Then there is another assumption where the subordinate is self-motivated and the leader provides direction. That second model is what I understand best. It can be difficult to switch mindsets when one is deeply ingrained.
    Grad students. You should teach grad students.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    That's a subtle distinction!

    Episodic control to achieve a specific goal as opposed to enjoying exercising control for its own sake, I guess.
    you got it!

    I get no kicks out of the act of controlling people- I'd rather not- I'd just rather have my own way! horrible, yes, but I'd rather it be me getting my way than them making me miserable!
    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett

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