Wednesday, August 06, 2008

When Negative Reenforcement Becomes Punishment

. . . (the king) can deprive them of the benefit of sun and rain, . . . and they are at the same time pelted from above with great stones, . . . while the roofs of their houses are beaten to pieces. - Jonathan Swift

I am the type of leader that too often pelts subordinates with stones and beats their homes to pieces. I have a lot of difficulty accepting substandard performance from those in my charge. Especially from crew members. My thoughts that precede my reactions of scorn, both viva voce and silent, go something like this - I've got multiple things to track, you've got one thing to track; why can't you get the one simple fucking thing you've got to do right? While that might be a logical conclusion, albeit crudely so; it isn't very kind, loving or tolerant. It certainly isn't the way to make people feel good about working for me. (My shame is all the more amplified when I recall I rarely have had the ability to pay my crews.)
I am becoming more aware of this tendency, which is a huge step toward growing out of this brand of insecure leadership. Indeed insecurity is at the core of this issue. When it comes to set protocol and technical skills I overcompensate for fear of judgment from the crew. I strive to know their jobs better than they do so as to maintain my authority. I do this in the name of being a more complete filmmaker, but it's not entirely the motive. Perhaps by letting go of this fallacious attempt at authority, I will form more trusting relationships with my collaborators by treating them as such.

Signore Direttore

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