Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Family roles affect work behavior

Interesting article on how family role and statuses may play a role in workplace relationships. In a bit of Adlerian psychology, they analyze how if you re the first born, it carries over in work behavior as being disinclined to like authority figures; if the middle child you wind up playing the mediator or diplomat role.

“I sometimes have to tell myself, she is not your mother, she’s your partner,” said Amy Frankel, 53, the chief strategy officer, referring to her two co-owners.

Both Ms. Frankel and her partner Terry Rieser, 58, the chief operating officer, are eldest children, and for them, an important motive in starting the company in 2001 was to be their own bosses. Like many other firstborns, they said, they are dominant personalities and have trouble with authority.

The third partner, Gina Delio, 52, the chief creative officer, is the second of five children. Her two partners describe her as the peacemaker of the group, true to middle-child form.

Ms. Rieser, whom her partners described as the most direct of the three, is often asked to handle difficult conversations with clients or employees.

Interesting because I can see behavior like that at my current and previous workplaces. It makes perfect sense that the behavior we exhibited when we were kids and that we grew up acting out would continue over, as natural and as instinctive (though actually learned and taught) as any survival training. Especially in periods of stress, we revert back to our practiced behavior that we displayed as children -- I'd hazard that most workplaces are stress incarnate.

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