Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cults, corporate culture and the clever ladies

It started with an intriguing conversation with a good friend. We were discussing her workplace and she calmly mentions a few situations that left her feeling slightly unsettled. Being very analytic and observant by nature, my friend suddenly made an interesting comparison between her employer and a cult.

Her comment didn't really shock me. It's not the first time someone has made such a suggestion to me and to be honest, it's a concept that had crossed my mind in the past. Considering we live in a world where large corporations are often more about their image (or rather, the image they want to project) than sincerity, it's not at all surprising that attempting to manipulate encourage employees to play the game.

Come on, we've all seen it - the ambiguous company mantra, the ridiculous corporate cheers that are just plain silly and of course, the 'our way or the highway' mentality that is force fed in the name of 'team player' - in fact, these things have become such a 'normal' part of the corporate culture, that many people mindlessly follow without ever questioning the benefits of such rituals. I mean, should we have to be told to work well together? Didn't we learn that in kindergarten?

In comparison, cults are led by charismatic individuals who expect their followers to demonstrate obedience, unquestioning commitment, and loyalty - oh, and sometimes drink funky Kool-Aid and chant funny mantras. Oh, wait, mantras?

Then again, is that really such a rarity? Don't we all know people who mindlessly follow others, never questioning whether they are right or wrong? Let's face it, some people have very strong personalities and can easily persuade others of their beliefs, regardless of how ridiculous or far fetched they may be. We've seen it in powerful people such as politicians and CEOs or even in our everyday lives, in the form of family members and sometimes intimate relationships. As for followers, they tend to have more passive personalities or perhaps they are simply someone who gets swept away by a more energetic personality.

I've always been pretty direct regarding my beliefs, even during times when it wasn't a very popular to do so. I never really understood people who weren't aware of what was going on around them, weren't interested in current events or don't bother to ask questions. In fact, it's actually kind of scary.

On the other hand, I love talking to people who are knowledgeable, open and optimistic. It just makes for a very invigorating conversation even when I don't agree with them. If I had a business, I would love employees with diverse ideas and opinions. On the other hand, if I was a cult leader, these same things would probably not be so appealing to me.

My friend that compared her workplace to a cult felt that it was best to stay under the radar.  It seemed like a better alternative than to question any of the forced encouraged team building activities, the 'values' that were constantly reaffirmed or any other daily BS. She didn't want to be a leader or a follower but instead chose to sit back and watch the well-orchestrated dance - and giggle at the absurdity of it all.

Perhaps that makes her the most clever person I know.

Canadian author Mima is known for her complicated and diverse characters, a dark style and for never shying away from controversial topics. To request an interview or if you are interested in doing a book review, please send requests here  

Mima is the author of Fire and the prequel, A Spark before the Fire, as well as The Rock Star of Vampires  Her Name is Mariah and Different Shades of the Same Color. Join Mima on Facebook, TwitterG+ and Goodreads also, check out her Amazon Author Page

For some reading, check out her blogs – personal or writing

Don’t let the fun stop here - sign up for the newsletter!