by Pierre Coupet
If you were wondering and asking,"Pierre, what does 'principled leadership' have anything to do with virtual organization management and The New Virtual Organization World?" then the answer is "everything." So read on and you'll understand why.
As far back as I can remember as a child growing up, all the way up to the time that my father moved on to the next world a few years ago, I used to always hear him say a variation of these words: "It's a matter of principles."
Being very inquisitive, these words used to haunt me all the time as I tried to understand their meaning within the context of whatever discussion was taking place at the time since my dad loved to debate and, to my delight and astonishment, he never seemed to shy away from critical issues and the sort of daily challenges that all of us face, no matter how controversial they may be or how uncomfortable they may make others feel.
As a child, it seemed to me that just about everything he said or did was guided by only one thing: principles. So one day, I was about 6 years old and in second grade, I decided to ask him what he meant by "principles." His answer was:
Pierre, you're probably too young to understand, but what it all really boils down to is that, regardless of how you live your life and no matter what you've said and done, if at the end of the day, you are not able to look at yourself in the mirror in the morning while you're shaving, be proud of who you are and then say to yourself that you are a 'good man', then life isn't worth living.
Right is right and wrong is wrong, there is no ifs and buts about it. A door is either open or closed, and never allow anyone to tell you any different. Always be fair in your dealings with others; never start a fight but, if someone starts a fight with you, you must fight back with all your might even if it means losing your life because to do otherwise means that you've lost your personality; and once you lose your personality you can never regain it - it's lost forever. And a man who has no personality "loses his soul," has no pride and is not worthy of respect from friends and foes.From that little conversation with my dad, the most horrifying part of it all for me--a child with a very vivid imagination--was "the prospect of losing my soul" and never being able to regain it. Death was preferable to losing my soul and my dad's respect. Henceforth, I promised to myself that I would never allow that to happen for as long as I live and that I would always be worthy of respect from, most of all, my loving dad, this stern military officer whom I thought to be larger than life and the center of my universe. This one little lesson has shaped my entire life and will continue to guide me until it's time for me to cross over into the next world.
Thus a perfect opportunity for me to segue into an exploration of what I mean by "principled leadership."
For most of us, when we hear of the word "leadership," it is almost invariably mentioned within the context of an individual's leadership skills and almost always associated with a set of leadership styles and attributes possessed (or which should be possessed) by such leader. We hardly ever stop to think of various leadership "types, models, and theories" and instead lump anything and everything that has to do with leadership all into one big "leadership" bowl of soup.
And why is that so important to be able to differentiate between these various leadership styles, types, models and theories? That's because any form of governance which ultimately takes shape is inextricably and inexorably tied to "types" of leadership instead of an individual's own leadership styles and attributes. Thus, it can be said that an organization's type of leadership takes precedence over an individual's own leadership "style" and attributes.
Therefore, the basic rule of thumb is: "leadership type" attaches to an organization or entity, whereas, "leadership style" attaches to a particular individual.
Nonetheless, regardless of the number of leadership types, models and theories, I have come to the conclusion that there are inherently five different types (not styles) of leadership in practice throughout the world: (1) Inherited Leadership, (2) Anointed Leadership, (3) Performance Leadership, (4) Ritualistic Leadership, and (5) Principled Leadership.
Organizations whose basic foundation is centered around the vision and mission of one or more of its original founders tend to practice this type of leadership I call "Inherited Leadership." The executive and senior leadership team of these organizations tend to primarily consist of the original founder(s) and their close to distant relatives, as well as close friends and associates and extended branch (i.e., friends of friends and associates, etc.); along with a coterie of tightly scrutinized outsiders who can be trusted to carry out the original vision and mission of the founder. In which case, "merit" is not the most significant factor in the selection process for staffing the executive leadership and senior management team. Most small businesses, private foundations, and trusts tend to fall within this category.
Organizations or entities whose basic foundation is centered around some sense of manifest destiny or divine and preordained right of its rulers and top echelon, tend to practice this type of leadership I call "Anointed Leadership." Monarchies, theocracies, absolute dictatorships, secret societies, etc. tend to fall within this category.
Organizations or entities whose basic foundation is centered around people, merit and performance tend to practice this type of leadership I call "Performance Leadership." Most large businesses fall within this category.
Organizations or entities whose basic foundation is centered around ideology, public policy, and are more focused on rituals rather than actual merit and performance for the election and appointment of their leadership, tend to practice this type of leadership I call "Ritualistic Leadership." Going through the motion and deftness or expertise at playing the game are more important than substance, people, merit, and performance. The atmosphere of the House of Othello pervades the work environment of these organizations. Most governments (more like 99.99%), so-called "think tanks," and special interest groups fall within this category.
Organizations or entities whose core foundation is centered around the notion that the welfare of all the people who serve their organization as well as their clients--and the communities in which they all live-- take precedence over individual shareholder profit, tend to practice this type of leadership I call "Principled Leadership." An almost fanatical obsession and emphasis is placed on a strong ethical code of conduct based on a priori ethics, substance, people, merit, high performance, and high rewards. And most importantly, Principled Leadership organizations require Principled Leaders (which I have yet to define in an article sequel).
All virtual organizations, as defined in accordance with the virtual organization management discipline and regardless of size, mission and scope, are and must be Principled Leadership organizations. Therefore, any organization which purports to be a "virtual organization," and yet does not practice Principled Leadership, shall be deemed to be a "pseudo virtual organization." Thus the reason I stated at the very beginning of this document that "principled leadership" has everything to do with virtual organization management.
In theory, thousands of organizations will claim to be "principled leadership" organizations for public relations and marketing purposes; however, in practice, very few such organizations actually meet this standard. The main obstacle to meeting the "principled leadership" entity standard has to do with the fact that "theory" and "practice" must converge. One without the other leaves you with a One-Sided-Coin that is worthless and unable to cash in.
Therefore, if you hire a Principled Leader to run a non-principled leadership type entity, you will not all of a sudden have a "principled leadership" entity. As well, if you hire a non-Principled Leader (I do not mean "unprincipled" - there is a difference between the two) to run a principled leadership type entity, you will not have a principled leadership entity.
Benefits of Principled Leadership
From the millions of benefits I can think of, let's focus on just a handful:
Welfare of "all" over individual shareholder profit equals "commitment." As we all know, commitment is the glue to any kind of relationship. The less commitment there is in a relationship, the more friction it has; the more toxic the relationship becomes; the more self-absorbed everyone becomes (it's all about CYA, every man for himself, and fight or flight); the less productive all parties are; and the more likely that this relationship will, sooner or later, disintegrate right before our very own eyes. And that, my friends, is a universal principle.
Conversely, the more commitment there is in a relationship, the more the parties will want to cooperate with each other, the more harmonious they will be with each other, the more they will want to work as a team in order to get a lot more done, the more productive they will be as a team, and the more success they will achieve. This success will, in turn, fuel their desire to continue using the same formula that brought them success in the first place, in order to achieve much greater success.
Commitment translates to much greater shareholder profit. And that, my friends, translates into much, much, much greater individual shareholder profit--in both the short- and long term--than would have been possible if the welfare of individual shareholders was given precedence over "all" others (the people who serve their organization as well as their clients--and the communities in which they all live).
The reason for that is based on a universal principle: "People always act in their own self-interest: perceived or real." (With respect as to why and all the motivating factors, I could write an entire book on this subject, a feat which clearly falls outside the scope of this discussion. Therefore, I will refrain from making any further comments.)
But the practical reason, in layman's terms, is that, when people either know or perceive that you "genuinely" care about them, want the best for them, and are there to support them, not only in words but also in deeds, they will, in turn, rally behind you and give you back much more than you ever gave them. The key word here is "genuinely." Therefore, words have to match deeds every single minute of the day. This is not something that you can fake and get away with all the time. As the saying goes, you can fool all of the people some of the time, however, you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.
Then the million dollar question becomes, "How do you truly and actually convey that you really, really give the welfare of 'ALL' precedence over individual shareholders profit and how well would that message go down with the shareholders?" The answer to that question is voluminous and, therefore, will be covered in a sequel of this article.
A priori ethics transcends all barriers and serve as a powerful unifying force. With all the talk we hear today about globalization, how flat the world is, and how we are all interconnected, the truth and reality is that we remain as deeply divided as we've ever been, if not more so. As well, no amount of communication technology (in fact, no amount or type of technology), in and of itself, is a cure for the "self-destruction and mayhem" virus which afflicts all of mankind, divides us in every imaginable and unimaginable way, creates every possible barrier to harmony and unity among us, and, to this day and very second, continues to impede our progress in every sphere at all levels.
However, that being said, there is a strong universal code of conduct based on a priori ethics, which systematically destroys this "self-destruction and mayhem" virus and breaks down every possible barrier to harmony and unity. The net effect of this universal code of conduct is the creation of a very powerful and unifying force of stakeholders who stand ready to catapult mankind's progress in every sphere and at all levels.
What this means is that, instead of having the world's greatest innovators and entrepreneurs blossoming, springing and sprouting out mainly out of Silicon Valley, imagine "the entire world" being one huge Silicon Valley.
Instead of having the world's most brilliant minds and research scientists restricted to certain universities, businesses and capitals of the world, imagine having them in "every corner of the world" thriving and collaborating with each other, making today's strides and accomplishments in science and technology look like child's play.
Instead of governments doing what we all know that they do so well (a quick hint: it's not good at all)--or which they concoct in secrecy or openly in the halls of their House of Othello (coercion, wholesale propaganda, illusions and smoke and mirrors)--imagine living in a "really transparent" world.
Instead of nefarious forces around the world orchestrating the next bloodbath, takeover, surrender, capitulation, or conquest in order to achieve their own ends, imagine unprecedented collaboration around the world in order to solve the next challenges of today's and future generations.
Instead of Neanderthal military alliances and "world-war-inciting," mind-numbing, moronic, idiotic, self-defeating, and childish sanctions governments concoct and impose on each other in order to "try" to achieve their own ends, imagine a world where such period and practice would be confined to the dust bins of history, a time that we would come to realize how "primitive" we were then, and how far down the bottom of the scale of mankind's evolution we stood.
Instead of hearing world leaders throughout the entire history of mankind articulate, in one form or another, such odious, offensive, lunatic, evil, and morally repugnant comments to the effect that "only the state has a monopoly on the use of force," imagine a world where "no single human being or entity" has any kind of monopoly on the use of force.
Can you even begin to imagine the "wealth generation effect" of this transcendence to a strong code of conduct based on a priori ethics? 100's of trillion of dollars in new wealth generation would be just the tip of the iceberg. That's definitely something that a "bona fide capitalist" can relate to. Bona fide capitalism can only thrive under a Principled Leadership organization. Capitalism in its current form is what I call "pseudo capitalism" and will always generate the same results.
The emergence of "bona fide capitalism." As a strong advocate of "bona fide capitalism," this is exactly what capitalism should be about instead of the current "pseudo capitalism" that we currently practice around the world. While I applaud Bill Gates' concept of "creative capitalism," it is indeed a good step in the right direction, nonetheless it is but a tiny step, whose rate of progress would take hundreds, if not thousands, of years in order to achieve results that are comparable to those of "bona fide capitalism." Why is that, you might say?
The reason is simple: Bona fide capitalism addresses the very root causes of inequities around the world and stops them dead in their tracks before they ever get a chance to germinate and gestate, whereas creative capitalism seeks to cure a disease which has already taken root and infested the body, or seeks to put a band-aid on a wound that has already been inflicted. In which case, it becomes obvious that we should side with Benjamin Franklin's "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" philosophy which is articulated and expressed in "bona fide capitalism."
Substance provides a real foundation in people's lives and serves as an authentic rallying point. When was the last time someone or some organization asked you to participate in something and, no matter how many things they told you and how many reasons they gave you, you weren't at all clear as to what they were about, what they "really" wanted from you, and why you should even bother wasting your time with them. The reason you feel this way is because you're having a hard time trying to find substance in the information you're being provided.
Well, a "principled leadership" organization cuts through the chase; cuts the crap out; gets rid of all the hype, bullshit, manipulative polls and processes that tend to dumb us down or insult people's intelligence; and gives everyone the raw information they need to process in order to determine if it is of substance to them.
That is because, once they find substance in the information provided, that makes for loyal supporters and followers as well as a formidable fighting force determined to fight for a cause to the bitter end; instead of a disillusioned and demoralized army the minute they begin to sustain casualties, or a bunch of "sunshine patriots and weekend warriors" ready to jump ship at the first sign of rain.
"People" truly become an organization's most important asset instead of a good slogan. For most of us, including every single organization on the planet, when we think of what our most important assets are, you can bet your last dollar that "people" will rank at the very bottom of that list, that is, of course, assuming that it was able to even get on the list. When people truly feel that they really mean that much to someone or something, they give them their all - which translates into high productivity, innovation, and much higher profit.
Conversely, when people feel that they are very dispensable, they also react accordingly (without going into details lest I be accused of fomenting insurrection or putting ideas into people's heads).
Hiring, promotion, and rewards based on "Merit" foster healthy work environment. Just because you are not a boxer does not mean that you can't tell which boxer in the ring is kicking butt and winning a fight. For as long as the fight is fair and the winner gets his just reward, you are going to keep paying your hard-earned money to come watch these fights.
On the other hand, if the boxing referee and judges pronounce a winner on other than performance in the ring, you would be furious and totally disgusted at the whole process and not continue to pay to watch such travesty.
And so it is in every single work environment. Every single worker is both a spectator and boxer in a ring. Play fair and they will come everyday to give you their all, which translates into higher productivity and more profit.
High performance expectations inspire actualization and deter mediocre and low performance team. Instead of looking for a superstar within a team, why not expect--and insist--that everyone on a team be a superstar "in their own way." The reason is simple: people normally rise to the occasion when they clearly know what is expected of them and decide to take on the challenge. What this means is that, instead of relying on one Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Shaq, or LeBron James superstar on a roster of 12 players, insist on having (or continually strive to have) a team of 12 superstars who can demoralize the competing team and "win every game" and every championship team award.
High rewards for ALL says that your organization not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk. Can you imagine asking everybody on your team to perform at Michael Jordan's level, and yet only Michael Jordan receives a superstar compensation package. What kind of message does that send to the other 11 members of the team? Better yet, can you imagine only the coach receiving a superstar compensation package. After all, a pseudo-argument could be made that, if it weren't for the coach, the team wouldn't have performed the way it did and, therefore, would not have been entitled to receive any high rewards.
A "principled leadership" organization addresses these inequities in an equitable way by making high-performance a requirement for all instead of just a few, and that high rewards must accompany such high performance.
But this isn't all about addressing an inequity or redistribution of wealth, this is good and smart business in hundreds if not thousands of ways. When an organization focuses on "a few superstars," it ignores all the other superstars out there that it could also have on its team. All it has to do is insist on making the team an all-inclusive team of superstars. Just put out the word and they'll come out of the woodwork. Just imagine what you could do with 12 Michael Jordan types (from a standpoint of excellence) on your team. To settle for anything less, is an abrogation of your fiduciary duties to your shareholders, the company, all the employees who seek to provide for their families and want economic stability, and the communities in which they live.
Imagine all the brain power you'll have at your disposal and the resulting fame and publicity that your organization will receive from having such a high concentration of superstars within your organization. Once the word gets out regarding what your entity or organization is all about, people (from all over the world) will line up in queues and get on long waiting list(s) in order to get a chance to come on board a company that insists on high performance and high rewards, treats their people with respect and dignity, and encourages ALL of its people to reach their full potential.
But other organizations, entities, schools, businesses, as well as individuals (and, by extension, cities, states, provinces, regions, and countries) will soon began to take note and, not wanting to be left behind, will also begin to follow your lead; and before you know it, there will be a critical shortage of Michael Jordan types to go around. (By the way, I want to be very clear about what I mean when I say "Michael Jordan types," I am referring to people who are committed to excellence in their field.)
That critical shortage of Michael Jordan types will, in turn, cause entities of all stripes and persuasions to begin to take a long-term view and very pro-active approach to securing high-performance talent.
Instead of waiting for our public schools--which are currently nothing more than prison mills (assembly lines that take our children straight from public school to jails) or babysitting government facilities--to deliver the high-performance talent that these entities will need in order to compete, they will begin to aggressively "demand" that these public schools do a better job at educating our children; as well, they will take part in sponsoring these children starting from kindergarten in order to make sure that they get the sort of education, training and experience they will need in order to become high-performance talent.
These entities will not be able to afford to lose all this brain power to the current and utterly corrupt, municipal-judicial-industrial-prison complex. It's just not good for business and profit. After all, these municipalities can only give out so many infraction tickets and the justice system has only a limited pool of poor and disadvantaged people, and criminals, to exploit for the purpose of financing their operations. The industrial-prison part of this complex, fed by its municipal-judicial sibling, is financed on the back of all other taxpayers (at the annual tune of $20-50K per inmate). Business can no longer stand on the sidelines or just rely on any type of H1-B visa program in order to be competitive.
In a nutshell, high rewards translate into "everybody wins." This all-inclusive, high performance-high rewards strategy is not only good for business, but also for the stability and economic well-being of the communities in which these workers live. But it's also good for the entire country that you live in and for the global community at large.
In conclusion, the "principled leadership" model is deeply integrated into, interwoven in, and a core component of, the "virtual organization management" discipline. Moreover, the "principled leadership model" is synonymous to what I call "bona fide capitalism," capitalism as it was originally meant to be.
on The New Virtual Organization World Consortium
(Stay tuned for Part 2 - A Global Need ... for Principled Leaders)
About Author: Pierre Coupet, CEO & Q of Virtual Organization Management is the founder of Virtual Organization Management Institute (VOMI), VOMI Virtual Organization Academy, and Virtual Organization Recruiter:: founder of the modern virtual organization management and virtual organization recruitment disciplines pioneered since 1997:: founder of League of Extraordinary Virtual Organization Executives:: and Architect of THE NEW VIRTUAL ORGANIZATION WORLD Collection. Contact directly at firstname.lastname@example.org; or via CHAT.
Copyright 2007-2016. Pierre Coupet. VOMI. Virtual Organization Management Institute. VOMI Virtual Organization Academy. Virtual Organization Recruiter. All rights reserved. Cannot be reproduced without permission.
Credits: Stock photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net