The Office Supports Feminist Leadership Styles!
Last night’s episode of The Office got me thinking about the difference between patriarchal and feminist inspired modes of leadership style – I know, I know, but seriously.
I’m still not sure how I feel about this incredibly awkward plot turn of Jim and Michael co-managing the branch. It’s so painful to watch, but it’s also really interesting. The presumed better path to branch management is a single leader. And yet, the casting of a lone leader gets seriously masculinized throughout the episode. As Oscar sarcastically comments, “Where would we be without the popes?” And while jockeying for power in their shared position, Michael makes obvious jokes about Jim’s manhood: “You unzip your pants and find there’s a calculator in there”.
And yet a long standing assertion of many feminist approaches to leadership, teaching styles, management and other forms of power, is that power should be diffused; that we achieve better results and set more interesting goals when we share responsibility rather than hoard it. And that is where last night’s episode eventually comes down.
Granted, the shared responsibility winds up with Michael and Jim drinking gin together and avoiding the rest of the office – but there’s a glimmer of something lovely in that moment. As Michael realizes the joys of sharing the burden with someone else and Jim realizes that Michael has gifts to bring to the table also, we get a sense of why co-leadership works and, to be totally transparent about my own sense of things, why feminists might be right!
Even if that means I can’t watch must-see-tv without seeing it through a totally dorky, let’s make the world a better place of love, sharing and community type of lens!
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Posted by Natalie