December 2010 Archives

Several weeks ago I was listening to Native American Calling with Harlen McKosato when a caller angrily suggested that tribe go back to traditional leadership. The caller voiced many familiar reasons why he wanted to see that happen: laziness, dishonesty, not qualified, practicing favoritism/nepotism etc. etc... After the caller went off the air McKosato spoke to his guest and said what do you think about the caller's suggestion? And he added, "This is no longer mom and dad's government anymore."

What Mckosato meant by his suggestion was we are not living in the 19th century and our ancestors' leadership quality, although admirable may not be effective in today world. And he was right. It may sound good to talk about returning to traditional values but it is not realistic in many situations. Today leaders need to have a vast amount of technical and other knowledge in addition to the traditional values of courage, honesty, perseverance and generosity to be good leader in today's modern society.
However there are ways to incorporate traditional values in the workplace and that is by internalizing them.  What do I mean by internalizing traditional values?  Here is an example of a Christian who has NOT internalized his or her Christian values. He or she will commit unchristian acts all week such as cowardice, lying, giving in to temptation too easy and be stingy and then still going to church ever Sunday. This type of person may be a Christian but is not a very moral and ethical Christian.

Returning to our traditional values of courage, honesty, perseverance and generosity are easier said than done because we haven't internalized them.  It is similar to saving our language; you can't take a couple of (Dakota) language classes and expect to be fluent in (Dakota) the language. You need to speak it constantly, from the time you wake up in the morning from the time you go to bed at night. Traditional values are the same way; you can't attend a couple of ethics courses about our traditional values and than claim that you follow them

You cannot expect a person who does not practice the values of courage, honesty, perseverance and generosity to be anything other than a mediocre good worker, a good supervisor, a good administrator, a good CEO, a good tribal council member and/or a good leader or person. How many of you know a really smart administrator? A nice friendly tribal council member? A sympathetic understanding CEO and you may think to yourself, I am really glad we have this person. And you may be right, but before you make a saint out of that person look at how his or her program is run, how she or her faces up to adversity and looks out for the workers in his or her department or is the tribe moving forward?

How can you tell if a tribal worker practices these values? They not only make themselves look good but they make their department, their organization, and their tribes look good as well. There are many tribal members in various leadership positions in the tribe that achieve local, regional, state and even national recognition but their program their organization; their tribe is still just as bad off as before. Why? Because it is not to hard to sell yourself as a special person especially if you are smooth talker and are willing to embellish some of your work and/or qualities but it is something altogether to inspire your co-workers, your workers, your fellow administrators and your tribal members.

If you are a Voc Rehab Counselor, or a Director and you are not courageous you will not be totally honest with those clients that may intimidate you, if you don't follow the values of honesty you will help those who you like or are related to instead of all your clients, if do not have the values of perseverance you will give up on yourself and your clients when the going get rough.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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