Thursday, January 15, 2015

Authority and Authoritarianism: Leader, Boss, Tyrant

Authority and Authoritarianism: Leader, Boss, Tyrant
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 16, 2015

Executive Summary: A good mayor should be a leader, rather than a boss, and certainly not a tyrant. Good leaders attract talent, and do not treat them as slaves. Powerful bosses inspire so much fear no one is willing to work for them. Outstanding leaders inspire so much enthusiasm everyone with ability flocks to them. Which course should Ko adopt? That should not be a difficult decision.

Full Text Below; 

Wen-Je Ko publicly excoriated Taipei Xinyi District Police Chief Li Teh-wei. Li responded by applying for early retirement. Wen-Je Ko gave Hsu Li-ming of the National Taiwan University Hospital a promotion, making him Taipei City Chief of Social Services. Ko then threw a temper tantrum and embarrassed him by scolding him in public. Ko abuses his authority. He demands that subordinates attend meetings at 7:30. He demands that they log any dinner engagements not with their families. He referred to Tsai Pi-ru as his "Flying Guillotine". Ko has revealed an autocratic leadership style. Wen-Je Ko will be around for the next four years. Everyone is concerned that he will only become even more insufferable over time.

Wen-Je Ko is a political novice. He feels unconstrained by conventional bureaucratic shackles. This may be exciting for those accustomed to sluggish bureaucracies. A political novice may indeed inject new life into such a system. But we must remind Mayor Ko that in an emergency room the objective is clear. The circumstances are straightforward. An authoritarian command structure may be necessary. But in a multi-faceted democracy, where people must work together, a different sort of leadership is needed.

The Li Teh-wei incident was especially striking. Not because Ko was concerned about Concentric Patriotism Association attacks on Falun Gong. It was striking because Ko publicly dressed down the precinct police chief. The mayor is the boss of the city police. He is also the boss of the Xinyi District Precinct Police Chief. He can of course make demands of his subordinates. But does he really need to humiliate them? After all, the work performed by the city government is far more complex than the work performed in the emergency room at National Taiwan University Hospital. The responsibilities are more complex. The division of labor is more delicate. The employees are more numerous. Within, one must deal with checks and balances from the city council. Without, one must deal with public oversight. On the periphery, one must deal with various interest groups and civic organizations. This is not something a mayor can handle by himself. Therefore the mayor of the capital city should not attempt to be a boss , but instead a leader. Wen-Je Ko must appreciate the difference between a boss and a leader.

Owner-managed transactions are usually simple. The goal is uncomplicated. All one need to is issue instructions, make assessments, and confirm the results. But leadership is not so simple, not so standardized. Being a leader is not a "one-man show." It means leading a team. It requires good morale and a fighting spirit. It requires initiative at all levels, the willingness to assume responsibility and work together to ensure success. It requires the ability to persuade people to work together like a well-oiled machine. That, of course, depends upon the leader's individual ability. But more than that, it depends upon his ability to inspire, delegate, support, and rally his subordinates behind a common cause. This leadership style has no name. In English it is called leadership. By contrast, a boss need not rely on style to mobilize subordinates. The English term “bossy” refers to a tyrannical manner.

A good leader need not have an IQ of 157. But he must not have an EQ lower than necessary. He must be able to persuade people with an IQ of 175 to join a team and work together. A good leader does not demand that his team adopt his own habit of meeting at 7:30. Instead, he respects individual differences. He makes use of each person's strengths. He requires members to meet with each other. When a good leader issues rewards and punishments, he does not dispatch his Flying Guillotine. He does not make his team worry about being humiliated in public. If Ko administration leaders are truly talented individuals, they will have high self-esteem, individual ability, and a solid record of achievements. Ko must show them respect. He cannot afford to cavalierly taunt them.

We do not want to say too much about the Xinyi District precinct police chief incident. But the qualifications for any office, invariably involve comparisons with other candidates with similar qualifications. If word gets around that the boss of a company requires that his vice president get down on his knees before him, then the only people who will apply for vice president, will be sycophants willing to humiliate themselves. Suppose a bureau chief must attend meetings every morning at half past seven, just like a resident physician? Suppose he must work with a Sword of Damocles dangling over his head? Suppose he must log in every dinner he attends? Suppose his decisions can be cavalierly swept aside by the mayor with a wave of his hand? Who then will still want to become a bureau chief? Probably only yes men with no sense of responsibility, self-confidence, or professional dignity. Can one expect such officials to exercise initiative, stay the course, develop the city, and tend to the well-being of the public?

Since Wen-Je Ko took office, he has made a number of encouraging decisions. They including swiftly disconnecting bus lanes on Zhong Xiao West Road, announcing the demolition of hundreds of bootlegged buildings within three months, removing lobbying webpages belonging to city councilmen from the web, protecting trees, and re-evaluating works projects. Some decisions may have been hasty. Some policies may be whimsical. But Mayor Ko appears well-intentioned. Unfortunately, his lack of respect for other people, his insufferable arrogance, and his haste to contradict others, reveal an authoritarian mentality that brooks no dissent. This is probably his greatest weakness as a democratic leader.

A good mayor should be a leader, rather than a boss, and certainly not a tyrant. Good leaders attract talent, and do not treat them as slaves. Powerful bosses inspire so much fear no one is willing to work for them. Outstanding leaders inspire so much enthusiasm everyone with ability flocks to them. Which course should Ko adopt? That should not be a difficult decision.

2015-01-16 02:01:39 聯合報 社論









No comments: