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17160 Stephen Kalyta: Soulless Leadership: Leading without a Moral Compass

Soulless Leadership: Leading Without a Moral Compass

Article by 17160 Stephen Kalyta

There is an interesting crossroad between the priority given to a person as subservient to the Mission in a military context and a corporate environment where an employee is subservient to his employer. Although labeled differently, the outcome remains the same, the inanimate Corporation directs conduct in accordance with a set of policies and standards under which an employee’s performance is rated and for which they must adhere or be punished.

The standardization of the process removes individuality from the equation and quantifies packets of output separate from its organic contributor. Individual behavior is constrained to measurable key performance indicators in an order to derive a consistent outcome. In fact, the base of Six Sigma, and many similar programs is to minimize variability from outputs to guarantee a consistent result. Although effective for command and control, this model is out of date and even dangerous if the “commander” (officer, CEO) is either indifferent or subservient to this artificial construct. Consequently, the risk/reward analysis can become highly skewed in decision-making, resulting in a Corporation completely devoid of a moral compass.

Oliver Stone’s recent production about the NSA and Thinthread is a disturbing example. The pursuit by Michael Hayden (Gen. Ret’d) of his own inferior “Trailblazer” program as Director of the NSA was an example of failed leadership and allegedly facilitated several intelligence-gathering missteps that could have prevented the 9/11 tragedy. Let that sink in for a moment. Thinthread was a superior intelligence program developed by NSA experts, whereas Trailblazer was the worst possible example of cronyism, offering billions to fund outside contractors. Naturally, anything this sensational will invite skeptics, but the following cover-up and the extra-judicial pursuit of the Thinthread co-creators indicates how twisted soulless Corporations have become.

In the context of the continued success of the New England Patriots, Glen Llopis, a leadership strategist, describes the mastery of teamwork that remains the ultimate goal, rather than strict adherence to artificial benchmarks (quarterly results, stock price, personal promotion). He believes that empowering the individuals through non-standardization of processes will breathe life back into our archaic and maligned operating models. Situational awareness rooted in a strong moral framework should be promoted, rather than the mindless adherence to policy for its own sake. In a little less than a week, I have discovered a nephrologist, a Congressman, and several innovative business leaders purporting the need to “unlearn” what they were trained to believe as gospel. They refused to shut down their moral compass and lose their individualism, to embrace creativity, and for a select very few, win another Superbowl. They adapted to their changing environment at immense personal risk without sacrificing their values, and for that, they are heroes.



  • Doug Matthews

    February 11, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    I agree with this assessment. The military, government bureaucracies, and the corporate world continue to be rife with leaders who lack any semblance of a personal moral compass. Sometimes they are so immersed in the organization’s culture that they cannot understand when such a dilemma presents itself. Let me give an example from my own personal experience when still serving in the CF in NDHQ way back in the 1970s. Typically every March we would be informed that there was a surplus in our directorate’s budget for the year (fiscal-year-end being March 31st) and that if we wanted to not be penalized by being given less the next year, we must use this surplus by the end of the month. My moral compass told me that doing this was wrong and indeed, cheated the Canadian taxpayer. Not only that, but the very concept of being given a lower budget because we spent less of said taxpayer’s money, was cockeyed thinking to say the least. In my several years at NDHQ, I cannot remember a single commanding officer of mine who even mentioned the immorality of this way of thinking. Had I chosen to speak up, I would have been labelled a misfit and received a lower assessment. After my military career I went into small business where I often wondered if ANYONE had a moral compass – but that’s another story.

  • Bruce McAlpine

    February 12, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    Well said, Stephen. Corporate Culture (the glue that unifies an organization’s behaviours) is driven by the values espoused by those at the top, as long as the leaders walk the talk. Our ethos is formed by “Truth, Duty, Valour/Vérité Devoir Vaillance”, and we need to monitor our behaviours to ensure that we are living by this code. Interestingly, Enron’s espoused values were – “honesty, integrity and respect”…

  • Colin Campbell #3389

    February 12, 2019 at 6:11 pm

    Young Trudeau is another without a moral compass.What he wanted to do with SNC Lavalin was In my view okkey All the big players do it eg U USA
    France Germany etc, He should have said this is what we are going to do and do it period. The trouble with him and his advisors is exactly that they have no moral compass ands think they are smarter than the average voter who wont understands their lies. They are sadly mistaken!