I like the work, I like being on campus, and I like the people. One thing I like about the people is that they are smart. And many of them are good, in the old fashioned sense of the word. I was reading an article yesterday about how a disproportionate percentage of bosses are psychopathic bullies* when I realized something that may outweigh even the smartness and goodness. With a few exceptions -- mostly in the non-academic parts of the organization -- our campus has very few Montgomery Burns' in management or leadership positions. We have our share of Michael Scotts, but that just makes it fun to come to work.
As a boss, I'm what you would call an agreeable sort. An employee told me once that my greatest talent was the ability to chew someone out without them feeling like they had been in trouble. I think he meant it as a compliment. Anyway, I have never seen the need to be a bully or a weasel at work, and I don't really like being in the sort of environment such people create.
|Everything I need to know about business I learned from |
beating up other kids in kindergarten. Image from here.
Too many businesses love these people. Bosses proudly use words like "aggressive" and "decisive" to describe their abuse of the people around them, and their complete disdain for any life outside of the office. They win big (usually on the backs of what a former colleague called the "worker bees") because they take big risks. They lose big as well, but usually manage to deflect that onto someone else, or jump ship before the hammer falls. Agreeable leaders tend to do just as good a job -- without the drama -- but that doesn't really seem to matter in our "nice guys finish last" society.
Campus has largely been a haven from that sort of thinking. Our leaders are mostly painfully polite. Our meetings are civil and pleasant, even when we argue. The last chancellor who asked someone to cancel their vacation got fired.**
This is one thing -- though far from the only thing -- that worries me about the current trend to make educational institutions more businesslike. Put aside the small detail that schools don't operate like businesses, and treating them as if they do will not produce desirable results. I'm afraid that the push for "results" will bring larger numbers of "aggressive self-starters" to the academic world. While that may sound like a good thing, I promise you it is not. I just hope it takes a while. I would hate to have to start another career.
* Surprised? Yeah, me neither.
** He didn't really get fired for that. It was just a typical example of his style, and one of his final acts.