Very refreshing interview on NYTimes with Linda Lausell Bryant, executive director of Inwood House
There are days where we deal with so much change that I think, ”You know, I would like one boring day at Inwood House.” I haven’t had one yet, but I wouldn’t mind just one kind of boring day.
People are people in whatever setting — they bring their luggage of stuff, we all do — and the dynamics in the workplace are a function of the interaction of what we all have in our suitcases. You can’t change that. You can acknowledge it. You can give it space. You can give it air and light. In the end, it can’t rule the day, either, because in the workplace there are higher things and rules that are going to guide what we need to do here. It’s helpful to know that, and be aware of it as a boss, and it’s even better if employees are aware of it and that they feel that you’re not trying to change who they are.
Leadership Style and Company Culture
Our culture reflected our work, which is to create a sense of family for our teens. So our staff would say: “We’re a family. We’re a family.” And I’ve actually said directly to everyone in all-staff meetings: “We’re not a family, because in a family you never can fire somebody like your Uncle Joe. You just can’t. You have to put up with him because he’s family. In an organization, if someone is taking the organization down, we can’t accept that because the organization is bigger than any one of us.”
So I’ve said to them that the analogy that best suits us is, “We’re a team,” and in a team, everybody’s got a role to play. And the team wins when everybody plays their roles to their best ability. The other thing that’s different in a team is that people understand the concept of roles. So if you’re the manager, you have a job to do as a manager. No one, generally speaking, resents the fact that you have authority because they understand that it comes with the role of a manager and that teams need managers. They don’t manage themselves.
But in a family, it is about power. You know, Mom or Dad has the power, and I think the dynamic that often plays out in a workplace is that people project all of their parental stuff. And I remember a job where I actually had to say to my team: “I am not your mother. I’m the division director here. I have a job to do. You have a job to do.”