Théun, I would like to ask you about a returning challenge that I keep facing, namely situations in which I have responsibility but I do not have the authority that I perceive I would need in order to face that responsibility. Here is an example in some detail, I try to keep it short.
I am working on a project for a friend of mine. He has a group of young programmers working for him and he recognized that they do not have the necessary experience to build good software and so he asked me if I would help bring in some experience. I agreed and I also started to interact with the people involved by outlining a few of the ideas that I learned through my 20+ years in the business. They all have been open to it and so we started the work with one of the young guns being the leader and I being in an advisory role as well as developing.
My friend, who owns this business, is sometimes desperate to get this going, his clients are SCREAMING for this software we are building. After I saw that my advise is nodded on by all the people and I even built a central piece of the software on my own, presented it to the team - while they have been reluctant to go on on their own, each one having their own problems, some technical, some from the approach point of view. We clearly needed a true leader, since the one we had was not experienced enough to lead. As my friend and I both got frustrated with no results showing, first I told him "look, the way I see this, you need the product and these people are not moving, please put them ALL aside and I will complete it alone". To which my friends' response was: no. He made it clear that I need to work together with this team, his concern is more to build the team.
After this I persuaded him to name me the project manager who has the responsibility to deliver the project, which he did in front of the team. This has changed the whole scenario, since I brought in my own style of managing things, which was not formal and not "who's done what" type of meetings based, quite different from what they have been accustomed to, so it was the unknown for them, but the point was to take away all responsibility about delivery, so they can all focus on the technicalities of it.
The previous leader remained the "technical lead" as my friend, the business owner, insisted upon this, and I agreed. When it came to technical questions, he was in male awareness and I was supporting him, when it came to decisions around the project, it was the other way around. The project slowly started to move in the right direction, as I've seen it. Until one day, one of the developers rebelled against me and brought in my friend to a meeting where everybody was told by my friend that I have the responsibility and so they all need to follow my lead.
I was harsh with dissent, I must tell you, I assumed that having responsibility means that the weight of decisions is on my shoulder and I would not let what I perceived individual ambitions get in the way of the common good, and this person was pushing his ambition through, something I know it would jeopardize the outcome. I told him that we are building an aircraft here and not making donuts, so he can go and shove his idea - this, after I also showed him repeateadly and with patience why it does not make sense from the technical point of view....
This is getting longer, than I expected, and please excuse me for that, but I want to make a point here. After my friend sided with me in this meeting, there was a mutiny right there (they came prepared) in a way that the group manipulated my friend into having this solution done by them in another way, while we are still working on my solution as well. The previous team lead person got so sick of being part of this maneuver, that he fought the rest of the group after they left and apologized to my friend in an email. My friend did not realize that there was a mutiny... HELLO! Of course, the next day everyone started to work on MY solution and everything seemed to be only a letting off of pressure. I stay with the responsibility but my authority has been diminished by factors that seem to be outside of my reach and so I am sitting here with all the weight on my shoulder but seemingly no authority.
Power has been playing this game above with me in many cases, and so it must be important that I learn what the heck to do in cases like this. You have sensed it too, with regards to my interaction in the Living Room and how I would not be able to handle the West because I am not stable enough. To add insult to injury, there has been some recapitulation happening... I have had TWO females leaving me during my life, they both got so fed up with me that they both left me and promptly had a child with someone else. Oh, the pain...
And now I would like to tell you how I see myself in this. It looks to me that I have a shortcoming through which I let people abuse me through others, not directly. And since this is such a powerful returning event in my life, I must be doing it myself and I need to not-do it - I want to own this mirror. I sent you this email to make my intent set clearly on this as I see it as something of huge importance for me. I will thank you if you comment on it. Am I facing self-pity or the gullible do-gooder here?
"Am I facing self-pity or the gullible do-gooder here?"
No, I am not seeing any self-pity in you, but the gullible do-gooder, yes! :)
But really, the two females who left you gave you the answer. :) You may say that they left you for your own good! LOL! Whilst you are trying to please EVERYONE, who end up pleasing NO-ONE, least of all yourself!
What you NEED to understand is that IF you do what is best for YOU, then it will also automatically be the best for everyone else around you. Most people have the cock-eyed belief that this is being self-centred, but it is bullshit to think like this. If you strive to UP-LIFT yourself through your actions, then because all of life is interdependent, you will also be up-lifting those around you.
So if we look at the example you give in this email, then what you failed to do up-front was to share with your friend what the conditions would be should you undertake this project. But instead you let him call all the shots, which CLEARLY he is not capable of doing, for otherwise he would not have needed your help to start with. And your friend, from the sounds of it, is also a do-gooder who wants everybody to be happy, but this ends up being at HIS expense, whilst those he is trying to uplift have the audacity to throw their toys out the cot! LOL!
"...........so I am sitting here with all the weight on my shoulder but seemingly no authority."
LOL! I don't know how you can say this. If you were to walk out on this project then it is clear to EVERYONE that it is doomed to fail. So your lack of authority is in your mind alone! All you need to do is to start EXERTING your authority, and then if someone complains, you whack that person, even if this is your friend! But by playing it NICE you are serving no-one, and neither yourself. So start getting tough! The true male does NOT compromise because he knows only too well the consequences of this. So stop compromising yourself, your friend, the staff and the project!
If it is of any consolation to you, I too have in the past made the fatal mistake of believing that if I step back and make some space for another male to step forward, then this is the best SUPPORT I can give that male in claiming his power. Sadly, what I learned from this is that once I step back, the male concerned ALSO steps back because he mistakenly believes that because I have stepped back the pressure is now off, and we go nowhere, let alone fast! LAMOF!
So I am afraid that in having had to learn this AGAIN the hard way, my stance today is, "Okay! If you THINK you are up to this, then SHOW me through your ACTIONS, and THEN we can talk about it. But not before!" In other words, I have come to realise that with where men are at today, it is VITAL that they CLAIM their power, and not be GIVEN any form of power which they have not claimed for and by themselves. Of course, in retrospect, this now seems to be so OBVIOUS! But at first I could not see how support could possibly do any harm! LAMOF! So all I ended up doing with all of my own good heartedness and goddamned altruism, was to re-invent the wheel, because one of the very FIRST injunctions given to any trainee nagal is the First Rule of White Magic, namely, "The worst destruction is caused with the best of intentions!" LOL!
With all my love and support,