Responsible Authority and Leadership

Responsible Authority and Leadership

If you are a leader or administrator or parent or dominant or figure of authority in any way, listen up.


You need to learn when sticking to your guns is a bad idea.


If you make a decision/ take a decisive action/ implement a policy/ endorse a person or situation, and there’s backlash, you need to look more critically at your choices.


Too frequently, I see administrators of a group make a decision that causes a huge outcry, and then the insist “I am the admin – this is MY decision. Let me tell you why I’m right!”


I see parents saying “you have to eat this before you leave the table,” and then their stubborn, freaked out, miserable child has to sit at the table crying over mushy pasta until bedtime, because their parents won’t back down.


School faculty implement a policy that all students react negatively to, and tell the students that if they don’t follow that flawed policy, they’ll have to suffer the consequences.


An organization continues to endorse someone accused of problematic behaviors, like assault or harassment, because they’ve know that person for a long time and refuse to stand down in their support of that person.



Figures of authority: I *encourage* you to learn how to say that you were wrong, and that you want to respect the people you have authority over in whatever way. Back up. Standing rigid doesn’t make you look powerful, it makes you look unfair and thoughtless.


“Hey, you know what? I was wrong when I said that. It made sense given the information I had, or given the conversations I had with other people, but I honestly didn’t realize how much this would bother people. I wasn’t being malicious, but I was being thoughtless, and that hurt people. I’m sorry, and you/y’all are right. I will not insist that ________ remain policy.”

“Hey, I can see you’re really upset about this. I don’t want to force you to do something that will make you miserable. Can we have a conversation and try to work out a solution?”

“I made a mistake. Thank you for sharing more information with me, and helping me to realize that what I said doesn’t make sense in this community.”

“I responded poorly because I felt defensive, but I’ve done some thinking and I realized that you’re right. I’m sorry for the way I harmed you, both with the negative thing that I did, and with the way I reacted when you pointed out my mistake.”


You will gain respect. You will gain respect, and you will make people feel safer and more comfortable in the spaces you administrate. And really, shouldn’t that be your priority?

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