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If It Wasn’t for People this Job Would Be Fun Published: Sunday, June 30, 2002 By: Dr. Manuel Ángel Morales

Nobody can become a complete leader if he or she is working alone. Nobody is an island. We make each other leaders as a by-product of our social and organizational interactions. We learn how to perform as leaders not only by formal education, but also by the quality of the proximity of our fellow people. This is the true significance of re-union, meaning unite, interact and relate again.

Learning and knowledge is transmitted by words, expressions, looks, glances and sharing. There is a kind of beauty, not to say mystery, in the capacity to read our humanity in our parents, friends, mentors and colleagues eyes. These looks express love, worry, reproof or mockery. The point is those eyes, those behaviors have meaning and communicate something. Human beings have a competitive advantage over robotics by what we can communicate through our eyes… Eyeing, looking and seeing make us humanly significant and oblige us towards social responsibility.

But there is an interesting irony in life. It is a profound predicament of wise philosophers that given the reality, that as human beings, we are what we are (leaders, executives, managers and professionals) because our social communication, it is a paradox that we seem to endure our sociability with certain difficulty. Working is nothing more than the capacity of developing a purposeful system of healthy relationships. Without others we would not be what we are, but we find it difficult to work with others. Social coexistance is never painless, because it is too important to us, we have high expectations on it or fear it too much, because it annoys us to need it so much.

Modern societies and many institutional systems tend to depersonalize human relationships, making them very cold or opportunistic. In his play “No Exit” Jean-Paul Sartre coined the phrase “hell is the other.” But is it really? Only insofar as they can make our own life hell when they reveal, interact or work with us, sometimes in a rather inconsiderate or violent manner. Are we then condemned to solitary confinement? We should never be, if we are truly in the business of understanding, and then making us understood, which are not the same thing.

The first requirement for communicating in a satisfactory manner it to understand the other person whose understanding we demand. It is like William James, one of the fathers of modern psychology, deeply stated: Man’s social self is the recognition he gets from his mates. We are not only gregarious animals, liking to be in sight of our fellows, but we have an inmate propensity to get ourselves notice, and notice favorably, by our kind. A great punishment for a human being would be to turn him loose in society and remaining unnoticed.

No work can be properly understood if it is not shared. The greatest danger for any institutional system is to loose its sense of community.

 


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