Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Conscious Leaders Care about Honor

Are the characters that are showing up in the news from old-business-model businesses-- accused of waste, fraud and abuse--simply men who lack honor?

As a reference point, we noted last week that JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, RBS, Citigroup, and UBS have been manipulating foreign exchange rates for years and will pay $5 billion in fines. No honor there. This is just one of many examples of what happens when the wrong people are placed in positions of power and/or influence. 

Nassim Nicholas Taleb would advise us to, “Humiliate people who define success in any other way than honor” and that to “in the end realize that you are only as valuable as the risks you are taking for the sake of others.”

Others? That’s right. Conscious leaders are not in it just for themselves. They see the bigger picture. They understand that everything they do has an impact on others, for good or ill. Conscious leaders care about honor because they know that without it, they become “a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” They reject the post-modernist definition of success for something much more meaningful and dare we say it, fun.

To bring this home, let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine Herb Kelleher, now in his 80’s, sitting on a deck overlooking the beach. He is sipping Wild Turkey and thinking about the thousands of people he positively impacted through Southwest Airlines (including baggage handlers who retired as millionaires due to profit sharing). A man of honor.  Now think of JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, RBS, Citigroup, and UBS. What will go through the minds of these folks should they live to 80?  Not a pretty sight.

How do you define success? What kind of legacy are you and your organization leaving?  Does your organization have any sense of honor or does anything go?