Sunday, April 3, 2011

Leadership and the genders

I am a teacher, actually a professor, but I prefer being just called by my first name at work. The whole "professor-so-and-so" is just too uppity for me. Profs pee and poop and fart just like the rest of the world so how about we call them like we do everyone else? (Sorry I got on a rant there for a bit.) I've been teaching for many years.  I've also been raised with old-fashioned values and lived as a part of a 'vanilla' marriage for many years.  Since I was in my mid twenties I've taught at the college level (e.g., a looonng time :).  I teach classes that tend to be smaller in size - typically 20 or less and often smaller than ten.  I say that because I get to know my students quite well as I have most three, even four times before they graduate.

One of my frustrations over the years  has been trying to get the 'men' in my classes to assert themselves as leaders. Some do, most don't. I've had many a conversation over the past 20 years with them telling them that I expect more out of them as leaders; that they needed to step up; that they needed to not just 'go with the flow', that they needed to lead and demonstrate those leadership traits I so wanted them to show - the ones that I knew were within.  I wanted them to not be content with mediocrity with respect to leadership just as I knew they didn't want to be satisfied with anything less than their best academically. Some responded, most didn't.

Looking introspectively, I saw me in many of them.  Yes I lead because of my position of employment yet I really don't prefer to leade. Yes I lead well in the classroom. Most would say I was one of the best teachers they ever had, yet once I stepped out side that classroom door, I was a different person.  I knew that I functioned best (or at least thought I did) by being given a job to do and then being given the freedom to just get it done right.  That was where I excelled. I tend to be a perfectionist rather than one that just finishing a task and crossing it off my list.  I want it done right. However, what I don't enjoy is the thought of knowing that I need to be the one leading a group and directing/motivating others within the group.  I can do it and am quite good at doing it if I have to, but I'd much rather be a cog in the machine than the CEO if you know what I mean. Much, I  believe, has to do with my upbringing and those childhood insecurities showing trough even as an adult.

I wonder what it is with the majority of the young men in my classes that causes them to respond in a manner similar to me? They would rather let the girls direct the discussion than do so themselves. Typically it was the women that I heard delegating, not the men. In part, I think some just didn't care. As long as they got the information they needed, that was what they desired.  Participating and leading socially was not their strength or their interest and so they fell into the mold of a follower. Yet not all were that way. Some really did care but just didn't have those traits. Whether they were followers by nature or just disinterested I can't say for certain, but I can say that that pattern of letting others take charge has formative influences on them that carry over from situation to situation and slowly molds them into the people they become as adults.

An interesting question now rises that I am a professed submissive. Do I advocate male leadership now as I did prior to asking Katie to take the reigns of our relationship or do I take a position that is the polar opposite of what I once encouraged? I don't believe that all men function best under this model. To say D/s is an absolute model makes me think that one's thinking is too narrow.  Not all women want to lead and I know some very very strong willed men out there - just check out the D/s websites for verification of that. Yet I know from years of observing developing young men that most don't desire to lead, to take charge, to run the show unless they have to. Does that make them submissive or does that just make them lazy or 'uncaring'.  It''s a big question and one that's bigger than my mind wants to try to comprehend right now.

But I am wondering what it is that I should encourage in those males and females I have influence.  They watch me. They model me. They respect me. And if all they saw was 'me' in the classroom, they'd call me a Dom for sure.  If they only knew the real me!! My oh my. I don't think they'd believe that if I told them daily for a month! As for me, all I really care about is that
I'm-Hers!  Yes!!

3 comments:

  1. Hello, IH,
    that's another enjoyable post, and I'm sure that you'll get quite a lot of comments - especially from our "females are superior"-friends. Well, I'm not inclined to sing in that chorus, and will try to write about my own opinion concerning your observation, but beforehand just let me say that I'm once more baffled about the fact that the both of us seem to be alike in so many aspects: your job, your attitude towards it, your assumption that your students wouldn't believe that you've got a submissive nature even if you spelled it out to them etc. etc. You are a remarkably more kind and patient person, and you spent some more years on this earth already, but anyway ...

    Well, let's come back to the topic. I've to agree with you concerning the "laziness" you observe in young people in your classroom. And you're wondering, if this may have some causes related to D/s in a certain aspect. Although I'm sure that there will be commentors who will assure you that exactly that is the case and that this are signs of a societal change or "shift" which will lead to a matriarchally organized world in the (near) future, I'd like to say that I don't think so.

    The essence of the "teachings" of our matriarchy friends is that - for whatever reason - men will hand over power to women, women will take it over, men will be content with the new order (or forced to be content with it?) and thus women will lead society. But yet - alongside with quite a lot of practical problems I see arouse here -, to me the main crux seem to be that this all is based on the assumption that women *want* to take over power and be leading figures.

    From my own observations I'm inclined to say that, no, they are as lazy as young men. I'd have to agree with you that average students nowadays seem to be more uninvolved, more uninterested, more lazy than in former years, but I don't see a difference between the genders. I'd say that women were tought to be "nice" in former years, that's why they stayed in the background in times were men were tought to be "leaders" and hence acted that way; women were still "nice", when men weren't tought to "lead" on all costs and hence become more relaxed ... being "nice" meant to them "becoming somewhat more active to fill in the gap, e. g. the boring pauses in classroom conversations", but - as far as I can see - that's it.

    There are sooo many female students who even want to have a live which is absolutely opposite to what our matriarchy friends would like to see: They want to have a family, want to have one or two kids, want to have a man who cares for them and earns the familiy's money, while they themselves don't want to shoulder more work and responsibilies than absolutely necessary. When I hear how they are talking about it and when I see how they indeed start to live exactly such a life, I'm often wodering about this. To those young women most achievements of the emancipation fighters seem uninteresting, and the persons who fought/fight for women's rights are ridiculed by them as "Emanzen" (sorry, I don't know an English equivalent, maybe "women's libbers"?).

    As said: I share your observation about the laziness of young men, but from my own experience I have to expand it to young women too. Young men don't reach for leadership as they used to do in the past, but most young women don't do so either. The majority of young people seems to be absolutely uninterested in taking over power and responsibilities, men and women regardless; they seem to be content with their live as it is and thankfully leave leadership to the few people who want to take over this "burden" ... and the few who do are female and male - according to my experiences there's no bias at all.

    rené

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  2. Mr. IH,

    I would like to say, I love mr. rene. If he were here, I would give him a big ol hug.

    Kidding aside, I do believe society is ‘shifting’. Mr. Rene believes it will more or less come to balance on an egalitarian fulcrum. He believes in the tabula raza concept. I do not. I believe we will see inertia carry society into elements of matriarchy.

    This is not due to any one group deciding to take power, but simply as your economic professor friends will explain, the “invisible hand” at work. I believe society is putting a premium on skills in which women have innate superiority. As such, men are loosing footing in their patriarchal assumption of leadership. Society is being reordered to accommodate the needs being filled by women with the superior sill set in need today.

    We no longer live in an agrarian based economy where the physical superiority of men secured their assumed leadership role. John Deer tractors are being driven by GPS with the operator sitting and looking out the window while the air condition keeps him cool. The shift away from a society needing physical strength to operate negates the need for the physical strength skill needing to be paramount. Instead, the skills women have an edge in increase in ‘value’ and the invisible hand begins to simply reorder society accordingly. I do not think this can be managed by a group or women all get together to make a ‘decision’ to become leaders. It is simply a change in the demand of skills and economic forces at work.

    I do believe fifty years ago, your classrooms would be mostly male. I am sure you can find a year book to prove the point. I believe in fifty years they will be mostly female. As a submissive man, I find it encouraging to see such a change. Anyway, that is my opinion. Take care.

    -SH

    P.S.- here is a new book on the subject:
    http://www.amazon.com/Man-Down-Reasonable-Gamblers-Everything/dp/0810998297/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1301239361&sr=8-1

    PSS – here is a good video:
    http://www.ted.com/talks/hanna_rosin_new_data_on_the_rise_of_women.html

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  3. I have a comment, but it may miss the mark, so I apologize in advance.

    When I worked (I'm retired) I was a technical writer. The common route for advancement was from writer to editor, then to team leader, branch supervisor, and division chief. I was a team leader for a while, and an acting supervisor for about a year, but I didn't want the hassle of supervision. I didn't want to order people around. I wanted to do my job.

    Years later, while in another job, one of my previous co-workers came up to me and said, "I always liked you when you were in Pubs. You didn't get involved in office politics, and I knew if I had a question, you would give me a straight answer. You never gave anyone a wrong answer so they'd get in trouble. You were always the independent expert."

    My point is that leadership may not be direct involvement with people in a hierarchical relationship, but as a person whose expertise or knowledge gives him a parallel role of leadership.

    (Take that, Peter Drucker.)

    GF

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