The philosophy which directs my interactions with co-workers and employees is non-hierarchical, collaborative, consistent, and adaptive—problem oriented, not rule oriented. I integrate viewpoints, skills, and expertise of those I work with and for. I am able to create new combinations of old ways to apply to a problem. And, from all that I learn, I am able to come up with new ideas for old and new problems (and for those problems yet to be visible). Yet, I accept my responsibility as leader, whether that responsibility is personal, professional, legal, or ethical.
“Teamwork” is the trendy slogan. Teamwork for me doesn’t mean “I crack the whip and you all jump.” The problems I work with are complex and require collaboration with others—whether they be janitors, retirees, government officials, or program managers. The idea is to involve people as needed, including myself, but not to burden them with the minutiae which keeps them from more important responsibilities.
I take seriously my responsibility to support, discover, and develop the skills and knowledge of those who work with me. I don’t believe a leader or guide should hand off to others the responsibilities (or the errors) which are rightfully the organization’s, program’s, or individual’s.
I deal with human systems. Because of my life’s experience, training, and research, I cannot separate people and communities into unrelated “activity parts.” People are so entwined with their environment that one cannot live without the other. It therefore makes no sense to operate within rigid programmatic blinders nor to encourage divisiveness and isolation. It is necessary to know, or to find out, the difference between immediate cause and effect and ultimate causes and long-term effects.
My usual procedure is to discover and assess the resources within an organization or community that would help me do my work better. Simultaneously, I evaluate how my resources can help others, whether it be defining the problem correctly, identifying needed resources, or creating solutions. I believe in contributing to the world around me, especially when I have been gifted. I am not, however, a “do-gooder” and I do not do for (in place of) others’ doing.
I have the ability to see and build “the Big Picture”. But, much in the way a mosaic cannot be designed and constructed without its tesserae, I must be familiar with the pieces that build that picture. By the same token, piles of colored chips have little meaning without a concept of the whole.
M. Pamela Bumsted, Ph.D., © 1995