I don’t know why it’s on my mind today, but I was thinking about who might not get thanked in a blog like mine. I mean, my subtitle is about saying thank you to people who’ve helped me along my path, so it makes sense that I might focus on people who were positive and successful.
Is it our nature as humans that we tend to put others whom we admire on pedestals? We do it to our family members, bosses, friends, and even people we don’t know like celebrities, politicians and sports figures. We do it without their permission. So, when someone falls from the grace we’ve so generously heaped onto them, why are we disappointed? Questions I’m sure to be answered, if they haven’t already, by sociologists, or psychologists, or anthropologists somewhere.
I have, in fact, put people on pedestals in my lifetime. I recall one in particular was a boss I had early in my career. I believed he could do no wrong. He seemed to know everything, have great advice, was admired by co-workers, community members — everyone it seemed. I knew his family and had the chance to also work with his wife. At the time I was working on degree in Leadership Studies, and I thought, here is a leader I’d want to emulate. He didn’t rely solely on his position to make things happen, in fact he rarely used that as a way to get things done. His approach was based in honesty and sticking to the rules but understanding the need to bend them occasionally, and fairness. I would characterize it as firm but fair.
After I’d left that job and moved to another state, I found out that he’d had an affair and he and his wife were divorcing. I felt betrayed and disappointed, so I can only imagine how his wife and kids felt. His fall from grace off that pedestal that I’d placed him on was fast and steep. On subsequent visits to that workplace, I couldn’t even look him in the eye when he greeted me. Was it fair to put my boss so high on that pedestal that it changed how I viewed his skill as a leader? Maybe, maybe not.
It’s been more than 20 years since I had that job. I haven’t seen that boss in about the same time. that wouldn’t be fair, to them or me. I’ve had much more experience as a leader and I don’t think I put anyone up on pedestals anymore. In fact, I’ve often been described by my staff as “firm but fair”, which I take as a compliment.
What I’m thankful for now as I look back on that experience, is that I find myself less judgmental when mistakes are made. Thanks, Boss.
- Leadership Thought #451 – Beware Of The Pedestal (edrobinson.wordpress.com)
- Perceptions and Pedestals (awkwardfit.wordpress.com)
- Why Precious Leaders Fail (leadershipfreak.wordpress.com)