The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership
Classical Wisdom for Modern Leaders
Authors: M. A. Soupios, Panos Mourdoukoutas
Pub Date: November 2014
Print Edition: $15.95
Print ISBN: 9780814434673
Page Count: 144
e-Book ISBN: 9780814434680
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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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