Jan Rutherford and Jim Vaselopulos, the hosts of The Leadership Podcast, explore core values based on the six cardinal virtues. Follow the discussion in this important episode to be reminded how the cardinal virtues apply in life and at work, and how you and your organization can move forward by going back to the fundamentals of leadership.
[1:25] Jan and Jim have both received a lot of very positive texts about Episode 332, featuring Richie Norton, who talked about the brevity of life. Jan sees that people are planning frantically for next year.
[3:05] Leaders are making sure they don’t get caught up in emotions but look at the facts. Jim refers to past guest Alan Beaulieu and ITR Economics. The slowdown we’re feeling is a slowdown in the rate of growth, not a recession. Slowing from 25% growth to 9% growth feels like the airbags just came on. Don’t overreact.
[5:20] The numbers come from our words, deeds, and our ability to work through other people. Leaders get people to do things willingly that they would not do otherwise. How we lead depends on our values. Ask what is the most important thing, the second-most important, the third-most important, and so forth. We need to prioritize what we value and translate those values into behaviors we can observe.
[6:47] If we say we value integrity, what is the observable behavior that comes from that value? Is hitting the number that top priority, or are people a priority?
[7:42] It doesn’t matter what you say, it matters what you do. Your culture is a product of your daily decisions and how you treat people.
[8:53] Jim recalls an experience from his first college internship at Glenview Tool Company. The owner, Mike Sciortino told him that a security device can’t prevent all theft but it can help keep honest people honest. Jim says, as leaders, let’s help people do the right thing. Let’s encourage them.
[11:04] Jan shares a recent airline experience where “the system” wouldn’t allow the airline to fix a problem. The system should be for people!
[11:40] Jan explains the six cardinal virtues: Wisdom, Courage, Humanity, Justice, Temperance, and Transcendence. Wisdom is built upon curiosity. We have to reward curiosity if we want people to be able to identify problems. Daily, use the statement, “That’s a great question!” Reward questions! It’s important to catch people doing right.
[17:15] Take the focus of questions away from yourself and put it on the other person. Instead of saying, “I don’t understand this, can you explain it to me?” say, “That’s fascinating. Help me understand why you’re going about it that way.”
[18:12] Courage gets a lot of talk these days. The best business translation of courage is honesty. Sometimes we say authentic. Jan coached a client who had been honest to their boss, but their boss just got quiet, as though wounded. If we want the truth, we need to hear it. Jim cites Choosing Courage, by Jim Detert. Courage is related to timing. Sometimes, wait for the right moment instead of blurting it out.
[21:45] Jan’s client recently told him that part of being courageous is not being complicit. Don’t keep quiet about stuff.
[22:39] Employees always have three choices about their workplace: Suck it up and deal with a toxic culture, try to change it, or leave. What do you stand for? What are you willing to compromise on, or not? It’s not like there’s much greener grass in different places, but there is different grass in all the organizations. You don’t have to be complicit in a toxic culture or abusive leadership.
[24:40] Humanity is simple kindness or the Golden Rule. This can be hard because there’s a lot of competition. There’s tunnel vision. Some niceties go by the wayside. But research shows that human kindness works. Humans respond best to positive reinforcement. Humanity is a decision that doesn’t depend on anyone else. Just be kind, even if people are mean to you. It’s doing the right thing.
[28:01] Jan tells of going from being a sergeant to being an officer. He was told, “You don’t have to speak like the soldiers; you can be above that.” It’s a matter of respect. If you try to fit in by speaking the cool lingo, it is inauthentic.
[28:58] Justice is fairness. Organizations are asking people to be fair to one another. But, in personalized leadership, you can’t treat everybody the same, because of their individuality and the work function they have. People want one-on-one time with their leader. In all that, we have to be sure we’re being perceived as being fair. Encourage others in the organization to be fair and equitable.
[33:19] Temperance is self-discipline. Without self-discipline and sacrifice, we can’t tackle big goals. John Wooden taught players how to put on socks and shoes so they wouldn’t get blisters. In business, we are missing so many fundamentals, such as starting and ending meetings on time and being predictable.
[35:00] Jim says discipline is respect. Showing up to meetings on time is respectful for everybody’s time. Discipline with personal and business goals is respect for how important those goals are. If you don’t have self-discipline, you probably don’t have self-respect. Discipline thrives when you have respect. If you don’t have self-respect, discipline falters.
[36:29] Transcendence is spirituality. In work, Jan sees it as being gracious and operating with gratitude. Jim reminds us that in the grand scheme of things, our role is small. How do you relate to the universe and other people and creatures? Barry Schwartz, in Practical Wisdom, told of janitors in a cancer care unit operating with graciousness because the patients were in great need and having a hard time.
[38:19] The transcendent behavior of the janitors improved the condition of the patients, who were at their most humiliating moments. The janitors were looking at the bigger picture than cleaning up a mess. In high-performing organizations, people operate with that level of transcendence. People who win the Medal of Honor are operating with transcendence, also known as Mission, Vision, and Values.
[39:20] Companies are not started for the sake of creating a great culture. A company starts because there is a market need, and they think they can help people. More people get involved and then they think about having a good company, which means having a good culture. People are tribal. The cardinal virtues are the rules to get along with our tribe and be of service to other humans in other tribes.
[40:50] Things feel out of hand because we’ve gotten so far from the fundamentals. As you look at planning, go back and say, “Are we making this too complicated?”
[42:24] Closing quote: Remember, “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.” — Maya Angelou