The News International phone hacking debacle is the latest in a long line of embarrassing exposures of inauthentic behaviour. Behaviour that stems from a belief that the “end justifies the means”, combined with a belief that the protagonist(s) is fundamentally better or more valuable than those they exploit. It is justified by the erroneous belief that everyone else is doing it – so we “have to”.
And so, we have long rationalised the unacceptable, as if we don’t have a choice.
What we can see as a result of all of these lessons is that the ends do not always justify the means and that the price of such careless exploitation can be staggeringly high. Inauthenticity is a significant indicator of risk in business and government, by contrast authenticity is an indicator of reliability and security.
And, we do have a choice. As adults we always have a choice. We are all capable of discerning our better selves, our better course of action, our better choices. Learning these skills is part of maturity, failure to learn them indicates immaturity.
This is all the more crucial with the availability of the internet, social networking and smart phones. We have to live with the expectation of transparency, the expectation that everything can and may be recorded and broadcast. In such an environment the only way to remain credible is to only do things of which you are proud.
Following on from last weeks post, what helps us to live a mature, wise and elegant life, of which we can be proud is self knowledge. One of the questions I received after last weeks post was about recommended resources for self knowledge. My suggestion is that it is worth investing is a selection personality profiling tools, which will help you understand yourself and those around you, rather than more abstract theory.
Last week I did a course and qualified in another of these tools. Known as Strengths Deployment Inventory (SDI), it is a tool which maps different core motivations onto a triangle grading across three motivational variables of “relationships” (Blue), “task” (Red) and “independent/analytic” (Green). It is a relatively simple tool to get at some pretty deep insights into our own behaviour and the way that we relate to others.
For example, without these insights it would be entirely typical for a “Red” boss to miss the value of either “Blue” or “Green” leadership (or the grades in between). The “Red” boss, so typically task focussed, naturally slips into the “ends justifies the means” mentality. Without this insight it would also be typical for different personality types to surround themselves with an “easy to work with” monoculture, rather than a more challenging and more diverse culture.
Perhaps if Rupert Murdoch (read all of the fallen leaders of recent times) had been open to, and respectful of, a more diverse leadership team it wouldn’t have happened? Certainly, it is hard to imagine an empowered “Blue” leader accepting the trampling of other people’s privacy or a “Green” leader failing to identify and communicate the risks.
With self knowledge the “Red” leader embraces the wisdom of others and tempers their drive to action with the knowledge that others may have a different perspective that, when integrated into the strategy, can lead to a better, more profitable, less risky and more sustainable result.
Few of us were fortunate enough to enjoy self knowledge as part of our School curriculum. If we want to make the most of life therefore, we have to make the effort now to discover ourselves and apply that knowledge to our relationships and work.
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