The issue of separation of rank and file is always a critical factor in the successful operations of any organization.
It is easy to dismiss the extreme forms of management styles, from the mutiny inspiring literary character of Capt. Bligh, to the very lovable children's show character of Capt. Kangaroo. Somewhere in between is the right balance of familiarity between the ranks.
This is true not only between management and staff, but also between different respective levels of management.
Rank indicates authority. Authority demands respect and an explicit degree of separation.
Without the respect for the rank, there would be no hesitation in questioning management's every order and decision, causing constant disruption in operations.
The respect for the rank, however, must not come out of fear. Fear of rank eliminates trust and communications - both of which are mandatory for success.
Management needs to maintain an open door policy, promoting communications (through the proper rank channels), candor in the decision process, sharing of non-classified information and above all, a willingness to listen.
Further, the degree of separation is an inherent prerequisite of rank and authority.
Joining those one manages, at poker games, or at Happy Hours, or inviting them over for pool parties and picnics may seem to be a good notion on the part of the manager to bond with their staff; however, too much such activities will imply that the manager wishes to be a 'friend.'
This is not to say that work associates cannot be friends. However, in order for management to be successful, someone has to lead and someone has to follow. This becomes difficult if both are deemed equal as 'friends.'
In this one instance, I believe Capt. Picard was better off for not having joined his senior staff much earlier for their regular game of poker.
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