Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Moral Unitarian Universalist - The cheerleaders vs the task masters.

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The cheerleaders vs the task masters.

Achieving group goals can be very challenging. Many fears arise to block progress and provide obstacles to achievement. Maintaining morale, preserving self esteem, avoiding conflict, and preventing hurt feelings is also important.

In small group psychology these two kinds of leadership are called, “the task -  instrumental leader,” and the “social - emotional leader.” Usually these two functions are divided between two people, but rarely they are combined into a single leader who is called “charismatic.” The charismatic leader can both get the job done and also maintain group morale and cohesiveness.

Of the two functions which is most important for group success? It is the task - instrumental leadership. The path to hell, so the saying goes, is paved with good intentions.

Some sexists say that these two functions of leadership are gender determined in a patriarchal society with the male role being task - instrumental and the female role being social-emotional. These role assignments seem to be more the result of socialization rather than biologically determined.

In the moral domain, the foundational pillars that these functions of leadership rest on are fairness and reciprocity, and loyalty and self sacrifice for the good of the group. Unitarian Universalists talk a good game when they promote and affirm their second principle which is justice, equity and compassion in human relations, and their third principle which is acceptance of one another and promotion of spiritual growth in our congregations. When it comes to self governance, these principles are rarely enacted in a viable way and so congregations and the denomination continue to be very small and shrinking in relation to a percentage of the larger population in which they are ensconced.

The moral issue which Unitarian Universalists struggle with, but haven’t resolved, is whether they would prefer to be liked or be respected? They prefer to be liked and when conflict arises they are quick to avoid it by walking away. Is walking away a moral decision or is it immoral?

There is a place for rejection and abandonment when situations contain violence and great harm, but when they are merely uncomfortable due to disagreement and the egotistical need to be right, walking away and shunning people and exiling them is immoral.

The maintenance of group morale and esprit de corps is an important function of leadership but not as important is truth, honesty, genuineness, and right action. Prostituting truth, honesty, and right action just to maintain pseudo rapport is malignant and toxic and impedes growth and integrity.

The bottom line is captured in the slogan, “Keepin it real.” Pretentiousness, sycophancy, and false praise and appreciation are the path to hell.

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