Steward Leadership and the Pursuit of Justice

Posted by Matthew Thomas

 
 
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matthew-thomas-2.jpgAs leaders who want to "do good while doing well," we realize that "doing the right thing" is inherent to our organizational life. As we have spoken of virtue lately - whether in a general sense, or with the specifics of temperance and prudence - our focus is how virtue can make us better leaders. Virtue provides us an aspirational sense of self, not merely sets of rules or best practices that help us avoid embarrassment, lawsuits, or criminal charges.

 

Within the context of virtue, justice provides us with more than just the sense that we obeyed the law and that we conducted ourselves ethically. Those are, of course, basic components to justice - as long as the law is itself just, and our ethics not mere self-justification of our common practice.

 

  • Justice as virtue means that we do right by people on an individual basis.
  • Justice as virtue means that we also do right by people on an organizational basis - how our company treats its customers, shareholders - honestly, anyone it comes in contact with, whether individuals or other organizations.
  • Like what you're reading? Subscribe Now! Justice as virtue means that our company's cause for being has at its core a desire to make the world a better place. As we make the world a better place, we make it a better place for all people - not just some at the expense of others. The produces we sell, the services we provide, the causes we champion - justice says that we keep our eye on the betterment of all.

 

Justice, then, requires that our organizational life have more than mere profit motivation. Steward leadership means that profitability and sustainability factor in to virtuous justice organizationally; without profitability and sustainability, the expectation would be bankruptcy - whereby we cry for mercy that we cannot meet our just obligations. These things are not inherently in opposition. Nevertheless, how profit (or surplus, in the case of non-profits) is obtained is as much a question of virtue as whether an enterprise is sustainable.

 

(Related: 6 Reasons Why Changing Your Mission Statement Didn't Work)

 

Justice helps us as steward leaders measure our interactions with others and the quality of what we produce. Therefore, as virtue, it guides us toward greater steward leadership of ourselves and our organizations.

 

I'm curious to see how you apply justice as you lead your organization.

How do you manage the use of virtue? If you wouldn't mind, e-mail me  and let me know how you see virtue at work.

 

We'd also like to provide you with a resource describing the balance of decision-making process: more reflective, or more active? Which way do you tend?

 

Tao of action-reflection, primer on process

 
 
 
 
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Topics: leadership, Matthew Thomas, steward leader, virtue, prudence, temperance, justice

Steward Leadership Through Prudence

Posted by Matthew Thomas

 
 
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matthew-thomas-2.jpgLately, we've been talking about how Plato's four Civic Virtues are the basis for steward leadership of our organizations. We have looked at them generally, in the context of stewarding anger; and we have looked at temperance individually. Today, we look at prudence.

 

Prudence, or wisdom, should be a no-brainer for those of us in leadership. Wisdom applies not just to tactical leadership, but if we are to take Plato at face value (Republic, IV.428), wisdom applies to governing an organization - the overall policy-setting work, both as directed within the organization and out toward its clients, customers, constituents, or other stakeholders.

 

Like what you're reading? Subscribe Now! Prudence is enshrined in the law as applied to various areas of business life - representing the application of care and diligence as opposed to negligence. This has the tendency to bend our definition of prudence away from wisdom and wise policy design and toward risk management - which itself is often code for risk avoidance.

 

Prudence in a broader sense, however, carries with it much more than the risk management aspects of policy creation. It holds a spark - even a divine spark - of creativity in the application of knowledge, experience, and empathy to situations at hand in light of a vision for the future. Of course, this vision for the future must not either be too excessively apocalyptic or quotidian, in the first place, lest it lead us out of temperance or prudence altogether. More often than not, the reason prudence is so diminished is not due to a lack of knowledge or experience, but because the vision for the future is somehow distorted or dark. This is the greatest barrier to the full pursuit of prudence in organizational life.  

 

(Related: Doing Good while Doing Well)

 

So applying prudence to steward leadership of our organizations we find:

 

  • Creativity will be present
  • (Good) Vision gives us context
  • Decisions will be made with adequate reflection and also with timely execution

 

I'm curious to see how you apply prudence as you lead your organization.

How do you manage the use of virtue? If you wouldn't mind, e-mail me  and let me know how you see anger, and virtue at work.

 

We'd also like to provide you with a resource describing the balance of decision-making process: more reflective, or more active? Which way do you tend?

 

Tao of action-reflection, primer on process

 
 
 
 
.
Read More ›

Topics: steward leaders, Matthew Thomas, steward leader, virtue, prudence, Plato, temperance