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 Although effective for command and control, this model is out of date and even dangerous if the “commander” (officer, CEO) is either indifferent or subservient to this artificial construct.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.