Studies following World War II concluded that the one clear distinguishing element between the German and Japanese treatment of prisoners was that the Japanese intentionally stripped their prisoners of all dignity. Throughout Japanese prisoner of war encampments, personal degradation could be as lethal as a bullet. Similar studies later concluded that:
In the absence of personal dignity men and women are defined not by who they are but by what is done to them... not only as prisoners of war but throughout every walk of life.
FYI: Dignity is defined as the state of being worthy of honor or respect and can be both conveyed and received.
Carrying the above theme into the world of the golf course superintendent, we should note that there are four target audiences superintendents have a responsibility to treat with dignity:
1. Members/Players: First, superintendents need to routinely increase their visibility throughout their course environments if they are going to have a reasonable opportunity to treat their constituents with dignity. (See October 9th blog message.)
Negotiate To Attend Board Meetings: There is no more rewarding audience (i.e.- those able to provide job security and define compensation packages) for a superintendent to demonstrate his professionalism and dignified persona to than this assemblage.
Knowing and using the names of members/players with such salutations as "Mr. & Mrs." and "Yes Sir / No Sir" will help to convey the concept of respect driven dignity like few other words can.
2. Maintenance Program Staff: It is imperative that superintendents (and their assistants) establish a two-way dignity exchange with their grounds crews because failing to do so demonstrates a lack of leadership that will result in an overall diminishing of staff effectiveness.
A superintendent should look at his crew members as a choir to nurture because they will sing their boss's praise when they are respected and treated with dignity.
Conversely, a verbally mistreated staff will always let those up the chain of command know about their harsh treatment one way, or another. Wen this happens there is nothing a superintendent can do that will more certainly guarantee his dismissal.
3. Family Guidelines: Clearly, the lack of a two-way dignity exchange between married couples leads to family-wide strife because it filters down to their children. Studies show that couples that divorce had a low dignity-exchange rate.
4. Schooling Guidelines: The singular concern parents should have regarding the quality of schooling their children get - even more so than the quality of education bestowed - is whether their teachers treat their children with respect and dignity.
Studies again show that bad teachers and bored teachers on tenure often fail to convey an acceptable level of dignity toward their students.
Man's salvation lies in respecting and enhancing the personal dignity of others; not in thoughtlessly undermining it. As such, the concept dignity defines our lives.