DALLIANCE DIARY: Authority versus Performance


‘You need to realise that most people are more concerned about authority rather than performance’. That was my husband, the calm half of our relationship, and obviously the philosopher.

While he was calmly being philosophical, I was, not calmly, pacing in circles, practicing my breathing techniques because they say correct breathing is the secret to remaining calm.

Whenever I stopped pacing for a moment, I would grill the security guards on why they were making us wait for so long while we were actually there to spend.

At some point, because the tropical heat ball above was at its peak, I asked (nicely) one of them to give me their hat to protect my delicate skin. Of course he did not oblige.

But I get ahead of myself; blame it on the inability to remain calm. You see, there was a huge two week long annual sale at our local shoe shop. I was a perfect Kenyan, in this case because I waited the last day.

In my defence, I was busy, and the only time I had available was Sunday after church – the only problem was, everyone else seemed to have had a busy two weeks, just like me, meaning everyone seemed to turn up at the same time as me.

As a result, there was a huge crowd of people searching for expensive shoes at throw away prices.

The crowd was huge, but there were tents big enough to hold double the crowd. However, someone somewhere had decided to keep some of us waiting, apparently they were afraid of a stampede. I take offense; Kenyans are a calm lot. Such unnecessary measures.

My husband’s theory was, someone in there was either afraid of work, on top of being lazy, that is why they wanted a smaller crowd to control. Another option for that totally unnecessary measure; somebody in security had found a chance to exert

authority on random strangers.


They were probably watching me from a CCTV screen, laughing at my impatience, my growing anger, my sun-roasted face.

Totally unnecessary; they had a proper security system in place to ensure nobody stole – so what was the problem? Letting more people in would only mean more people buy more shoes, surely a positive for the company.

Keeping people waiting meant there would be less time to buy shoes… I was, for instance, fed up by the time we were allowed in. I was tired, and I just wanted to pick a couple of shoes for my children and go home and nap. I was not the only one.

This is a relationship-ish column, which means I have to find a way to tie a shoe sale to relationships. So here goes. You have heard of statements like’ “a woman cannot answer me back,” or “a man cannot tell me what to do” and “I cannot let my wife come home after 8pm.” I could go on and on, but you get the drift.

“A woman cannot answer me back.’ Here is some news – women will always answer back, it is in our DNA. Some of us are loud, some of us are calm, some of us whisper, meaning you will not even hear it when you are being answered back.

“A man cannot tell me what to do.” That’s fair enough, but let’s see what happens when you lose that man because you are so hell-bent on proving something to unknown forces.

Sister, let the man have his say, then you have a choice to negotiate like a grown up. “I cannot let my wife come home after 8pm”, okay, but just make sure that you can control the natural and unnatural (traffic jam?) things before you utter stuff like that.

Vehicles break down, rain stops motion – what do you want your wife to do, walk through rain just to massage your 8 o’clock ego? But all that is not the point.

The point is, when you are so adamant on fighting nature (like the nature of women answering back), when you are adamant on asserting your authority to your partner, you miss out on being a performer.

You waste your precious energy trying to massage your ego (what else would you call it?) and lose precious time on practicing good leadership techniques, both at home and at work.

The best bosses are the ones who do not flaunt their authority, they have quiet calm, they hardly shout, they don’t bring down their employees in front of others, they concentrate on bringing out the best in their employees, in getting results, not fear.

The best partners behave like the bosses above. Leadership is not in authority/fear, leadership is in performance, positive performance.