The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership

Classical Wisdom for Modern Leaders

The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership

Authors: M. A. Soupios, Panos Mourdoukoutas
Pub Date: November 2014
Print Edition: $15.95
Print ISBN: 9780814434673
Page Count: 144
Format: Hardback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814434680

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Excerpt

RULE 2 “Office shows the person.” —PITTACUS

Of all the many problems facing today’s business world

none is more critical than the quality of the work environment.

In the absence of an affable work setting, employee

loyalties quickly dissolve. According to U.S. Department

of Labor statistics, employees typically remain in their position for

only about two years. Surveys designed to explain this remarkable

mobility suggest that the number one reason for employee exit is

a disagreeable workplace. The implications of this rapid turnover

are clear: The organization forfeits the time, energy, and resources

it invested in recruitment and suffers the effects of having employees

who lack meaningful commitment to the organization. How

can organizations motivate staff members who are constantly seek-

ing vocational alternatives?

Negative work settings do not occur spontaneously. Almost

without exception, this potentially lethal failure can be traced to

managerial deficiency and more often than not, to the abusive

misapplication of power on the part of the manager. Nothing will

more rapidly disenchant and alienate workers than a manager who

delights in resorting to the stick as opposed to the carrot.

One of Thales’ colleagues on the list of Seven Sages was the

ruler of Mytilene, a man named Pittacus (circa 600 BC). After

governing his city for a decade, Pittacus voluntarily relinquished

his power and retired. The ancient author Diogenes Laertius

recorded a number of famous sayings traditionally attributed to

Pittacus, the most famous being “office shows the man.” Above

all else, this maxim addresses the critical issue of power and its ef-

fects. Implicitly it contains two premises. First, that the investment

of power—in other words, granting a leader meaningful authority—

is the trigger that will rapidly reveal that person’s inner qualities.

Second, that power not only has a potential to disclose who

a person really is; it also has the capacity to corrupt. We need to

examine both of these ideas.

Anyone who has been involved in hiring a new employee under-

stands that the resume, the reference letters, the interviews,

and so on provide at best only an opaque view of a candidate’s ac-

tual identity. Throughout the various phases of the hiring process,

the real person is easily concealed by a series of highly stylized rit-

uals and procedures. In terms of getting at the core personality, the

procedure remains as superficial as it is cosmetic, with the result

that one never really knows the person behind the mask until the

employee is “up and running.”

These points are particularly noteworthy in the case of senior

personnel, the people who are assigned important leadership roles

in an organization. For these individuals, the investment of power

has an all-important diagnostic potential. Power will invariably

reflect what no resume ever does, namely the psychological and

spiritual disposition of the person. And here, of course, we are

brought back to the points made in the discussion of Rule 1. What

is soon to be revealed in the newly hired “leader” is whether or

not a process of honest self-discovery has taken place. If the battle

to dispel self-induced fraud has been successfully waged, if indeed

the individual has heeded Thales’ “know thyself,” that achievement

will be mirrored by the manner in which power is utilized.

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