Authority: Can be Demanded or Earned

Exactly at 8am I received a message from one of my teacher colleagues, requesting me to send the google form link for his project which he had prepared and shared with me. He has to send the same to the students immediately because their test was scheduled to start in  an hour  This colleague of mine is not comfortable with technology  . He is not able to create the link of google form which is needed to be shared with students on whatsapp. And for him I am the most convenient person whom he can ask to do the task.

Quite often I go through such experiences when not only  my teachers, my students too, provide me with tasks. Being a school principal my problem  is how should I react to such odd situations? I have seen school principals with whom teachers dare not speak; asking their principals  to do something on their behalf is unimaginable.  They define authority by the submission of the staff and student

I am easily accessible. I  am very liberal in responding to small queries of teachers or students.  Even when physical distance was not a barrier,  I was approached for even small  and odd queries.  Many such experiences sometimes give me a feel that I am not able to establish my authority.  I ask myself, “am I fit to be a principal?”But the next moment I myself contradict my feeling, “ an authority or head of an Institution is meant to be available, accessible”.

What should be the approach of an authority? Does a position determine the authority or the approach? And this question encourages me to look at the meaning of the word through my experiences.  My search or looking back takes me to my early days in parents’ family. I was brought up with my two elder brothers. I was the youngest one. My father was a professor in a small town college.  As per rule my father was the head of our family. He was the provider; caretaker and  responsible for  everything needed for our proper development. I am very close to my father. Still while grappling with my conflict he did not come in my mind. Instead it is my eldest brother. He easily comes to mind.  Not I only but  my other sibling  also has the same insticts. But  at this juncture of life when we three have created our space, consider our eldest brother as family head.  Appooda (my younger brother) used to plan for cultural  events at home  it was he Babbooda  (the eldest brother) ,who would arrange all things without getting noticed.   My achievement in district level science exhibition was supplemented by his efforts.  I never forget his reactions when we were being scolded or punished by Ammi. He never allowed any hardships to reach us.   It is he who always managed our light as well serious nuisances.  In the years when he should have several demands of his own, he took care of small needs of his juniors. His anger was unique but much more effective. Till date we have the same equation and for me and Appooda as well as our family members he is the authority or head of our family.

The second person whom I noticed as head of an Institution is my son’s school principal. Principal of Saint Xavier’s school, Delhi a school having more than 3000 students  . He was a person whom I had never seen sitting in his office. He would recognize me by the name of my son.   Interaction with him always  had a soothing effect as he would talk about his teachers and student with twinkle in his eyes. He always appeared to me closely linked with the entire program of school and the staff.

Besides these experiences I have some stories of my grandfather and uncle of my mother who were successful school heads of their times.  These stories were told by my father. One dialogue which I would like to mention here was of my mother’s uncle, “How I can   speak ill for are my teachers, they are mine so I am responsible for their behavior and need to analyse myself. Moreover my appreciation would encourage them and bring a positive image of our institution.”


More by :  Dr. Anupama Jha

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