Acknowledging Mistakes

Three times today I saw people fuck up and try to manipulate others into cleaning up their mess. Once it happened in the fitness program, and the other two times at work. Instead of saying, “folks, I really screwed up here and I need your help to make it right,” which would have made everybody open to helping, they went with, “I’ve created this amazing opportunity for you to get something you really need by covering my ass.”

Why people think this heavy-handed manipulation will work is a mystery. It only makes everybody angry. If you want help, say so. Don’t pretend like your fuckup was part of your grand design to benefit humanity.

The Problem with Administration

I know this is an opinion shared by absolutely nobody else but I’d much much MUCH rather we didn’t get administrators from the professor pool and instead hired them from the business world.

Good scholars make terrible administrators. We get no training in how to lead. We spend our lives working either alone or with grad students who are wide-eyed and totally dependent. We have no idea how to motivate our colleagues. It’s just not our thing.

Example. For years, I’ve been on the service program coordinated by a non-academic staff member. Everything has been great. I loved this program. But now it’s been given over to a colleague who’s a brilliant professor and a great teacher. But it took her all of one week to fuck up the program to the point where I just resigned.

The colleague sent us an email saying, “From now on, the 3 of you will do the work that 8 people used to do in the past. This is an exciting opportunity that will help you…” After which I quit because I don’t let anybody condescend to me in such a way. A normal thing to write would be, “Hey, we were only given 3 people this year to do the work of 8. This stinks! Here is how I will reduce the work expected from you by a third to make sure the task is still doable. I’m so sorry for this imposition!” But she treats us like particularly stupid freshmen, and I have no interest in that.

And no, nobody would do that in any business that has any interest in surviving. We like to believe they do because it makes us feel less pathetic but that’s all a fantasy. My sister is hiring a massively expensive leadership coach to train a single employee in how to be a better leader to two other people. The employee doesn’t have tenure, by the way, so she isn’t going to these lengths because she has to. And before anybody says this is an isolated case, my sister is in the leadership of the largest global organization of entrepreneurs. I know more than I ever thought I would about leadership in business.