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Three dimensional leadership

When people describe leadership they often use contrasting concepts:  either command and control, or servant leaders.  Others contrast hard-edge management by the numbers with a softer and emotionally intelligent “coach.”  Even personal styles are seen as either loud, direct and aggressive, or quiet, indirect and reflective.  When leaders reflect on their own expressions of leadership, I’ve noticed they also tend to self-define in contrasting terms.

When we frame leadership in these either/or bipolar contrasts, we tend to get more of the same:  two dimensional leadership.  It’s either black or white, hard or soft, aggressive or reflective.

It’s time we embrace three dimensional leadership.  We value leaders primarily for their 1) good judgment,  2) decisions and 3) their ability to craft and communicate a compelling vision that others want to follow.  Since these are all part of the domain of value, I turn to the foremost expert in valuation and value analysis for some guidance. (more…)

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With respect to Robert Hartman

I’ve been in Cuernavaca the last few days.  Today I went to the gravesite of Robert S. Hartman.

Bob Hartman split his time in the 1960′s between his villa in Cuernavaca and his academic home at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.  When he passed away unexpectedly in September 1973, he was buried here in Cuernavaca.  He used to consult with other thinkers like Abraham Maslow, Erich Fromm and others in summer seminars down here.

I only learned about Hartman five years ago, but I have grown a lot in my esteem and admiration for what he was about during those years.  In Mexico they remember those we admire or love who have passed on Dia de Muertos (Nov 1-2).  I’m a few weeks early, but I’m writing this in honor of Robert S. Hartman, father of formal axiology and value science as a larger movement.

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  • Filed under: Axiology
  • I’m not going to talk about the humorous (or horrifying) ways that human error is displayed at work.  Instead, I’m interested in the tension between organizations (with their impersonal tendencies) and the  human spirit (with its assertions of personality, commonality and innovation).

    I like fresh and innovative thinkers, especially in the field of management.  Steve Byrum is one of those guys, and his book From the Neck Up:  The Recovery and Sustaining of the Human Element in Organizations (2006) is a refreshing read.  In it he looks at the work of Frederick Taylor (the father of Scientific Management) and Robert Hartman (the father of Formal Axiology) and draws some very interesting comparisons and contrasts.

    Taylor was concerned about finding the one right way to do things, and the focus was on efficiency.  Under Taylorism the human element too often has gotten reduced to just a “cog in the wheel” of the system.  Human beings were best replaced by automation and robots wherever possible.  That may be oversimplifying, but it captures the essence.

    Hartman was a philosopher concerned with defining what exactly “goodness” is.  His discoveries led to the founding of a new field called value science.  Hartman placed great importance on the human element in organizations.  He affirmed this through promoting the practice of profit sharing and through his consulting with several large corporations in the 1950′s and 60′s.  Hartman was interested in organizing goodness; the modern term of “adding value” (in all dimensions) has many deep resonances with Hartman’s ideas.   He saw it as possible and desirable to align people, processes and materials in a way that was effective, efficient and ultimately affirming of the people involved in the enterprise.

    There are many insights in this 150 page book that would reward a few hours of reading.  The only drawback is that the book is not readily available (either in bookstores or online).  You can reach Steve Byrum directly and order a copy from the Byrum Consulting Group at (423) 886-5587.

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