The one about “Leadership”

I would happily give the task of “management” of any of my open source projects to anybody, and his duties would include telling me what I should be working on implementing, what bugs I should be fixing, and when I’ve been procrastinating, etc. Basically, I wouldn’t mind hiring someone to order me around.

But sometimes I find friends or colleagues with no difference in seniority, telling me what to do, and when this happens, I get pissed off.

For instance, let’s say I’m working in a group of people. In school projects, typically what happens is that everybody is of basically the same seniority, and therefore there is no natural leader. And then as the project progresses, there’s this one guy who takes the initiative, and starts telling people what to do.

And I get pissed off when this happens. Note that I used the positive term “initiative”, and indeed this initiative by this person is in the best interests of the project; I wouldn’t take this initiative just because I don’t want the responsibility. Look, I would have voted for you if we had elected a leader at the beginning of the project, but I am not going to listen to your orders if I haven’t explicitly given you powers to order me. Yes, perhaps it’s my ego: if I elect you, then, in some sense, you’re working for me, and at the same time I’m working for you, and everybody is happy.

Sometimes, I’ve found myself indirectly giving this power to people: for instance, if there was an almost implied leader for a plan, I usually say some self-deprecating remark about how bad I’m at managing stuff, and that therefore I’m leaving everything in their hands, and that I’ll follow orders. When this happens, I would probably listen to them when they say “Sit Arnie, Sit! Good Boy!”

Today I’m pissed off with a particular person, who seems to be assuming some kind of leadership role, and basically giving me sweetly-worded orders. So what happens is that since they are sweetly-worded you have to keep nodding your head, “Oh okay, sure I’ll do that”, “yeah no problem”, and so on. This is not the first time this is happening with this guy, and the last time I ended up doing more work than I should have done. It’s not that I’m stupid to keep accepting, it’s just that I don’t see any way of saying No, unless I show him this blog post, and tell him that I just don’t like him taking the “leadership” initiative.

(Additionally, this guy talks way too much, so I agree to everything he says without argument just to make him stop talking.)

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6 Responses to The one about “Leadership”

  1. Preyas says:

    typo: “last time I ended up doing more work that I should have”

  2. Preyas says:

    oh. I thought it was supposed to be “than” instead of “that”. But I think you meant “that” all along.

  3. Shreevatsa says:

    Did you show him this blog post yet, and did it help? :)

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