Life Change from a
Hypothetical Plane Crash
When I stepped into the office for the interview it was a far cry from the body shop I was just at a short hour before. I accepted the part-time position as a bookkeeper for the Christian owned tax service firm and was excited about the prospective of being one step closer to getting fully out of my current position at the body shop. My interviewer was the owner’s wife and she seemed like someone that I could learn from as she invited me into their family. I hoped that this would be an opportunity to further develop my skills as a bookkeeper but so far the biggest lessons have been in management.
“I can’t believe that she makes you sign in like that- I mean we are all adults here.”
“We can’t order it without her approval-she makes everything go through her.” “I enjoy working with him but I tolerate working with her.”
The above are just some of the statements I heard in my new position about the woman I hope would be maybe become a mentor. She had appointed herself the new office manager when the office moved a year before I took the position. Being the owner’s wife she displaced the woman who held the position before, taking away the power of the former office manager and giving her an administrative assistant title instead. This left the small office staff angry and frustrated. This was the small business “family” I stepped into when I accepted the position instead of the happy one that I was told it was.
This environment of lack of trust and with no positional power to affect any real change, I wondered what lessons I could learn. I needed the paycheck while I looked for something else anyways so I embraced the value of learning some lessons from someone else’s mistake instead of waiting to make these mistakes myself. I had a real life situation to look at and see the concepts discussed in my organizational behavior class applied to my job. For example Tubb’s chapters on communication helped me to be aware of nonverbal messages I was sending. I have seen firsthand how the lack of understanding of these concepts can promote a dysfunctional team therefore a poorly producing team. The lessons and experience of this class and the environment of my workplace have brought me a deeper self-awareness of my strength and limitation as a person, and appreciation of other’s differences which have increased my character as a servant leadership.
Desert Survival or Death
I cherish the lessons came from a group simulation called Desert Survival Situation. Once assigned out group of six members, the class watched the desert situation which consisted of the details of a small plane crash-landing in mid-August in the Sonoran Desert in the United States. The pilot dies in the crash. Before the plane was engulfed in flames, fifteen items are pulled from the wreckage. We were instructed to rank the importance of each item in relations to the team’s survival. After that task was done we met as a team to determine a list ranked with all the group members input.
The challenge was before us and as we began to inter act. We took a consensus and decided to use a classroom. We formed a semicircle so that we were all were facing each other. This meeting took place right after reading and the communication processes in Tubbs’s text, so I was very aware of the interaction roles and wanted to encourage input and at the same time make my opinions and reasons know to the group. One member seemed to try to dominate and I kept trying to defuse that in a non-combative way. Out instructor reminded us before hand to just go with the flow but to make sure we contributed. First we agreed that we would leave to go to the nearest mining camp. Then we prioritized the items through a negotiation process and concluded the meeting, feeling confident in our decisions.
We returned to find out the results from the film, Desert Survival Situation,...
References: 1. Greenleaf, Robert K. (1998). The Power of Servant Leadership. San Francisco, CA, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
2. Kilmann, Ralph H. and Thomas, Kenneth W (2007) Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. CPP, Inc.
3. Lafferty, J. Clayton. Desert Survival Situation (2003) Chicago, IL, Human Synergistic Center for Applied Research, Inc.
4. Tubbs, Stewart L. (2009). A System Approach to Small Group Interaction. New York, NY, McGraw-Hill Higher Education an imprint of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
5. The Institute for Motivational Living (2010).The DISC Personality System - Enhance Communication and Relationships. New Castle, PA, The Institute for Motivational Living Inc.
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