The Realities of Paranormal Team Leadership

Originally posted in response to a situation another team leader, here in New England, was dealing with in 2013.  However, having fielded many questions over the past few months from other team leaders about the same general subject it became a response which appealed to many, so I committed it to a blog entry.

The Realities of Paranormal Team Leadership

I’ve been hearing of some pretty unsavory behavior by people who used to be members of another team, but who aren’t anymore, and I have to say, it’s pretty disheartening.

Here’s a quick observation from one team leader to a whole bunch of others:

As noble as your cause may be in your mind, it would be an overestimation to imagine your team members are AS invested in your vision of your team as you are, so try not to feel too betrayed when they leave you hanging, abandon your group altogether, or otherwise hang you out to dry publicly, or just with those people they know are really super important to you (and your team).  This is especially difficult to do when you became so close, had so much (seemingly) in common, and you really bought into the “we’re in this together” vibe, and the “we’re friends” scenarios.  You surely realize just how deep that friendship really ran now that they’re no longer on your team, and are out and about doing things friends would never to do each other – which is somewhat the point of this lengthy post.

Know – and if you didn’t already know, ‘know it’ after you read this posting – that your team members aren’t necessarily joining your group to take their rightful place among your worthy ranks, to remain there forever.  No. Not even close.  Most, although rarely will you be told this truth, have ulterior motives, and while an overwhelming majority of these motives are NOT sinister in nature, they may be a bit offensive to your sense of “we’re all one big happy family!” when you realize what those motives were/are, after they’ve left (or were asked to leave) your group.

Try your hardest not to buy into the BS.  People will tell you a whole heck of a lot of things to get onto your team and to be counted among your membership.  It’s quite amazing what people will do just to be listed on a website with a T-shirt that matches everyone else’s, and it’s an incredible case study in human behavior to see what some of those same people will do once you tell them they’re no longer allowed to wear the T-Shirt, are no longer team members of your group, and will no longer be listed on your website.  And honestly, it doesn’t matter what their role is in their dismissal, you’ll always be the bad guy in whatever scenario arose. They could have; refused to review evidence, told you ‘point-blank’ they’re not doing the same team tasks all other members are doing, contacted clients behind your back, and cut you off – entirely – regarding communication, which you’d probably think meant they no longer wanted to be a part of your team, but nope.  The moment you say the words out loud, not matter how tactfully it’s approached, dismissing a member is always your fault – which, I suppose is almost as bad as having any member who will behave in questionable ways such as what’s written above, but who will become instantly offended the moment they realize they’re not being invited to investigations anymore, but … I digress.

The point of this last part is, you simply can’t win with some people, and understanding that people will tell you just about anything you want to hear to get onto your team?  Is probably going to put you ahead of the curve.

To Ex-Paranormal-Team-Members  -  When you join a team it’s somewhat of a privilege.  It is.  Ask any established team leader how difficult it is to properly train an investigator.  How much time that process takes. And ask any seasoned MEMBER of a paranormal investigation team just how much they’ve put into their team experience.  If they’re going about it properly (not trespassing or breaking laws during investigations, etc…) most, if not all, will tell you there’s a fair amount of work involved in making an organization successful and keeping it up there in terms of image and respect within their communities.  It’s just a fact.  And if a team isn’t constantly working to better their team or their team experience (aka “keeping their team busy, particularly with investigations) then they’re spending a whole lot of down time just waiting around for the next great thing to fall into their lap.  Honestly —> how often do great things just … ‘fall into your lap’ in the rest of your life when you’re not working for it?  hmmmm?   Well, *gasp* SHOCKER —-> in paranormal it’s pretty much the same way.  A team doesn’t put up a website and suddenly they’re loaded with investigations.  They’ve got to work just as hard as any other team out there, so yeah, welcoming you into the mix of their team?  Is a big deal … and yes … you should consider your presence among them as a privilege.  They’ve earned their stars.  You haven’t.  Hopefully, you will. But until you prove yourself, you’re little more than a “gamble” to your peers.  A “hopefully they’ll work out”… A “risk”… a risk worth taking? Probably, but still… a risk.  And to those who have invested MUCH?  An unnecessary risk, at times.

So let’s talk “boundaries” for a second, shall we?

When you leave a paranormal investigation team, particularly one that has a private client base, you are leaving the ENTIRETY of your experience within that team.  This means ‘hands off’ what isn’t yours.  You left.  You leave it ALL behind.  When you joined this team you agreed to work toward the same goals as everyone else within that group because that is how your membership is/was defined.    This means when you leave the group, you do so as an individual, and you do NOT get to take any of your group’s clients, team members, knowledge base, research, location contacts, location information – including lists of places your ex-team may have been working with or interested in investigating… and so on and so forth.  I’m sure you get the picture.

It also means, you don’t trash talk, defame, or otherwise stab your ex-team in the heart with whatever means you find personally appropriate given the unfairness of the situation you find yourself, which put you “on the outside looking in”.

From a team leader perspective I find these truths hold firm, above all:

1.  Team leaders work very hard to train newbies, and to keep their groups afloat and busy.  They are in NO hurry to remove or replace established members.  If you think otherwise you may want to see a professional about your ‘personal insecurities’ issue.

2.  Incoming members sometimes promise things they have no desire/means to possibly deliver. The problem with getting on a team, based on promises you’re never going to keep is – the team probably still needs/wants the things you said you’d do.  And, if you don’t do them, well… you can imagine the disappointment at the realization, and also why your dismissal probably isn’t too far off in the future.

3.  There is nothing more irritating, insulting, or degrading to the entirety of the rest of the team than having ‘investigators’ who have plenty of time to investigate, but are SO incredibly busy in other areas of their lives that they simply cannot afford the time to spare for other necessary group activities unless it specifically has to do with public appearances, photo ops, or investigations.   If it puts their face in the public eye?  They’ve got plenty of time.  If it puts them on the team website?  They’re there.  If it gets them on a YouTube video so everyone can see them investigating?  They’ll arrive early. If it puts them on television?  They’re there with bells on.  But if it means any of that … *other* stuff … the stuff the rest of the team calls “work”, well, you can count them out.  Evidence review? No way, it takes too long.  Researching new investigation locations? Heck no! The team leaders should be doing that, that’s their job.  For cripes sake, Team Leaders should be counting their lucky stars they have you as a team member, right?  WRONG.

4.  Team Leaders do not exist to supply group members with an unending supply of investigation opportunities.   How perfect this paranormal experience would be for every Ghost-Hunter-Wannabe the entire world over if that’s what Team Leaders were ultimately and solely responsible for —> researching hours upon hours, days upon days, weeks upon weeks, working angles, courting location managers/owners, scheduling and meeting investigation location criteria (insurance? Attending: board meetings? public town meetings? multiple in-person trips to scout location, etc…)  all so you can have a fun night investigating a location and calling yourself a ghost hunter.

The bottom line is this,
Being a member of a team/group/organization is a shared experience and when you join that shared experience you join to become a part of a collective. Sure, learn things while you’re there.  Pick up the know-how of the trade.  But when you leave a group, you LEAVE the GROUP, and you leave everything that belongs to that group WITH that group.  You take NOTHING with you.  It’s called respect.

Anything else is called “I was a mole for the entire time I was a part of that group, and all this stuff I took with me from that group after I left? is my proof.  All this trash talking, undercutting and backstabbing I’m doing now that I’m no longer a part of that group? Shows you who I really was when I was a member of that group and who I really am now that I’m no longer a member of that group. ALL of this is the character the foundation my new group will be built on.”

Building your group by stealing from another group… or by cutting another group off at the knees is a heck of an interesting way to make a name for yourself.

THINK. PEOPLE. THINK.  Because as much as paranormal would like to convince you “paranormal unity” is all about this big happy family we all belong to, where everyone gets along, and the world is filled with rainbows and ponies… the truth is… we’re all watching each other as much as we’re being watched.  If you want to make a name for yourself, it’s probably best you do it the same way every other group worth an iota of respect has done – and that’s working it, DAILY, from the ground up.  By your own wits, your own means, and your own WORK.  The End.

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