August 2011 Archives

Management today is no different than management during our ancestors' time - it is just different times and circumstances. Like our ancestors, managers today have to master four basic functions of management: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. These skills are certainly useful, however without possessing the values of courage, honesty, perseverance/fortitude, and generosity to guide them while carrying out these tasks, a person will be a mediocre manager at best. What happens when tribal managers do not follow these values?


In a letter to the Turtle Mountain Times ( June 25, 2007) The writer starts by saying:

I've always believed when a person even steals one penny from a tribal program, that person steals not from the program, but from each and every member of the tribe.

Unfortunately, the writer goes on to say,

Nothing is being done to correct the problems. Corruption, nepotism, and outright theft still exist. Our 'tribe' does nothing to protect the whistle-blowers. People still live in fear, and the outspoken people on this reservation are marginalized and blacklisted.


Becoming an Ethical Manager

There are literally hundreds of educational institutions that offer programs in management, and there are thousands of books on the art of management. Most of these programs and books cover the essentials of management: leadership, managing human resources, job performance, meetings, how to handle change at the macro and micro level, hiring/firing, etc. however, most of them teach very little, if any values. 


By incorporating Native Americans values into your management skills, you will find that you will be a much better manager. You will feel pride in your decision-making; you will not spend time worrying about the consequences of your actions; and, you will find out how much more people respect you and your decisions. In short, it is fun and fulfilling being a courageous and ethical manager.


Courageous Leaders:

Almost all managers believe that they are leaders and they have a positive influence over their employees and the tribal members they serve. Manager would like to believe all their employees respect and say nothing but good things about them. However, if you live on a Indian reservation you can probably easily think of the names of one or two managers who do not have the respect of their employees due to their unethical behavior.


"Courage is the single most decisive trait in a leader"


Why? ...Because as a manager, you are required to make dozens of decisions daily. The majority of these decisions do not take much courage and/or high moral character, but those few that do will determine what kind of leader you are. And it turn what kind of manager you are. Without courage you will not make moral and ethical decisions in most situations. Instead you will make cowardly and unethical decisions. Courage is not something you are born with. Courage like every other value becomes stronger the more you practice it. Once you have learned how to face your fears and overcome them, when you have demonstrated your courage over and over again, it will become your most admirable virtue. It will change how people view you, how they approach you, and it will increase their respect for you. Without courage, you will not be able to develop other critical leadership traits, such as decisiveness, (self-) responsibility, flexibility, and generosity.


Traditional Values and Tribal Management

Long before the coming of the white man, Native Americans were excellent managers - they had to be; their lives depended on it. Within the Great Plains tribes (Sioux, Blackfoot, Arikara, Hidatsa, Mandan, Arapaho, Gros Ventre, Omaha, Crow, Ponca, Cheyenne and Assiniboine) different societies existed, each with unique roles. Societies originated from a legend, vision, or dream. Often the most important of these societies were the warrior societies. For the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota (the Sioux), these Societies were often referred to as police or military organizations, but they were much more than that. These warrior societies often kept order in the camps, and often had the responsibility of managing the daily activities of the camp. One did not just go out and join these societies. To be accepted into a society usually meant an individual had exemplary character. He was usually known for his courage, honesty, perseverance/fortitude, generosity, wisdom, and for his loyalty

Also like managers today, the members of warrior societies had many additional responsibilities. These included:

  • Playing a unique intermediary role in government by serving as the active, but temporary, dispensers of authority;
  • Serving as creative display centers where recognition was given for honors earned by warriors and women's guild workers for tasks well done on behalf of the tribe.
  • Punishing offenders against the public welfare;
  • Guarding the camp against possible surprise attacks by an enemy, both at camp and while moving;
  • Keeping the camp informed at all times as to the movement of the buffalo herd;
  • Fostering intersociety rivalry to cultivate bravery and a military spirit among themselves and among boys, who needed a living example of their future responsibilities;
  • Taking the most commanding and dangerous places in battle;
  • Ministering to the desires of members for social recreation through feast and dances.

Back in the pre-reservation days, Indian people of the northern plains had the best deterrent to bad leaders: They simply stopped following them. Therefore it is important to remember that tribal members have the final say on who is going to be our leaders. If our reservations are going to become better places for our children to live, then we tribal members have to stop supporting unethical leaders, and start supporting leaders who have courage, honesty, perseverance, and generosity to lead justly. If we do not demand these qualities from our leaders, we have no right to complain when our leaders commit cowardly and unethical acts.

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