Arrogance of Power or Informed Leadership
That makes sense to me, but apparently Mason & Felder at the Jewish World Review don’t think highly of the concept:
...the banality of the Fishburn quote — which as any kindergarten teacher can explain is the philosophy of four year old children...
Children have the ability to cut to the chase since they innately understand the nature of power uninhibited by the grownup niceties of hierarchy and negotiation designed to lessen violence in conflict resolution. Children “push back” from a physical intrusion in the only way that they know, physically. Adults have learned all sorts of ways to non-physically push people around, especially if they have power over some one. I talked about the abusive behavior of some work supervisors in my piece, “Black Hats Destroy the Thin Blue Line.”
Within the work place, sometimes subordinate employees refuse to relinquish a contrary opinion or kowtow to a supervisor more comfortable with the arrogance of power rather than the hard work of informed leadership. That would be the supervisor who derogatorily brands the opinionated employee as a person who “pushes back.”
I’ll admit that the “push back” label amuses me no end since it is intended to be derogatory. But it is not, and here’s why. The Free Dictionary defines “push back:”
Noun1.push back - the act of forcing the enemy to withdraw or rollback
Verb1.push back - cause to move back by force or influence; "repel the enemy"; "push back the urge to smoke"; "beat back the invaders" repel, repulseIn other words, there can be no “push back” if you are not pushed first. There is nothing untoward in standing tall in the face of adversity.
Frequently, the activity inappropriately characterized as a “push back” is an employee refusal to agree with a premise, as opposed to an insubordinate action in which the employee fails or refuses to recognize or submit to the authority of a superior. The moment that the supervisor characterizes a subordinate’s reaction as a “push back,” the supervisor has telegraphed his interpretation that the employee is challenging either the supervisor’s authority, or, as in this case, the supervisor’s credibility. The “push back” characterization is not possible without at least a subconscious admission on the part of the supervisor that it is he who pushed first.
I once had a Chief who took the time and effort to inquire, listen, debate and decide. When that process was completed and any matter of disagreement remained, he’d say, “Well, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.” There is a man who earned respect. And a man to admire, even if you did not agree with everything he decided.
What is there to say about the supervisor who does not rise to the stature of my former Chief?
“…when you push people around, some people push back."
Links in this Blog:
Biography for Laurence Fishburne
The Cotton Club
Send Ward to a ward?
Black Hats Destroy the Thin Blue Line
Free Dictionary Definition of Push Back