It was the very early seventies. In those days, in Nursing, you learned to take orders and, as you gained experience and position, you learned to give them.
No, you didn’t shout like a drill sergeant!
You learned to use a certain tone in the voice that didn’t invite questions or equivocation! All who joined the organisation and expected to thrive learned to comply – they gave their consent. Some left pretty quickly!
Even then, times were beginning to change and by the time I left nursing, there were very few real autocrats still around.
Today, it is hard for me to remember what it was like to be part of such an organisation.
But there were occasions when an autocratic approach and the ability to command were invaluable; for example in a real medical emergency.
We were well trained and in most emergencies everyone knew what was expected of them and slotted into their place. The leader gave the orders and, in those circumstances, we obeyed. I saw several lives saved as a result of our ability to act as one body and give our consent to be led without question.
But it put a huge responsibility on the leader!
When I found myself leading the team, I found it awe inspiring to have someone’s life in my hands.
I had authority, but I had responsibility as well and I was accountable for the decisions I made.
I was grateful for my training and I was very grateful for my team and the relationships we had built up outside of the emergency situation.
Yes I am sure there is still a place on some occasions for the Commander and an authoritative style of leadership! But without the consent of a good team built on participation and engagement, with real relationships and care for each member, I’m sure no one achieves great things.
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Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her firstname.lastname@example.org or ring ++44(0)7867681439