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Leading With Values: When Good Intentions Aren’t Enough, with Ken Shotts

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Leading With Values: When Good Intentions Aren’t Enough, with Ken Shotts

The Power of Inspiration and Institutions in Overcoming Temptations

  • The myth of the sirens' song represents the challenges of adhering to good intentions amidst temptations.
  • Jason's approach in the story of Jason and the Argonauts involves using Orpheus' beautiful music to inspire and keep the crew on track, representing the power of inspiration.
  • Odysseus' approach in Homer's Odyssey involves using beeswax to block his men's ears and tying himself to the mast to resist the sirens' song, representing the need for binding institutions to help people live up to their good intentions.

The Role of Institutions in Shaping Behavior

  • Institutions, such as the Supreme Court, Congress, and the education system, shape individual behavior and can channel the positive aspects of capitalism for broader societal benefit.
  • Institutions influence behavior through incentives, such as rewards and punishments, as well as constraints and legal rules.

Crafting Meaningful Mission Statements and Values for Organizations

  • Crafting meaningful mission statements or values for organizations requires specificity and anchoring in the company's unique stories and actions.
  • Organizational values can be aligned with intentions, but statements of intentions are not the same as institutions that deliver on those intentions.
  • Individuals can influence organizational values by communicating their concerns to superiors, setting standards for those they supervise, and choosing to work for organizations whose values align with their own.

Balancing Stakeholder Interests

  • Companies often act as if there is no trade-off between doing the right thing and maximizing shareholder value, but this is not always true.
  • Companies that care about stakeholders other than shareholders should clearly articulate who those stakeholders are and measure and reward progress on delivering value to them.
  • In a divisive environment, managers should try to understand the legitimacy of other people's perspectives, even if they disagree with them.
  • Companies should carefully consider whether and how to take positions on contentious issues, and they should create norms for respectful discussion of these issues internally.

Identifying and Living by Core Values

  • It is important for people to know the core values of those around them, especially in organizational contexts.
  • Values can come from personal life experiences, culture, religion, and the roles that people play.
  • Identifying core values is important and can be done by reflecting on experiences as a parent, child, and spouse.
  • Documenting and writing down core values is beneficial and can be revisited regularly to assess personal growth and alignment with those values.
  • Core values can be used to set up life and institutions in a way that supports living up to those values.

The Role of Mythology in Designing Institutions

  • Mythology can provide useful guiding principles when designing institutions or organizations.

Conclusion

  • Knowing and articulating values is essential, but acting according to those values requires the direction and discipline that institutions can provide.
  • Grappling with heated disagreements in a polarized world will become increasingly important.

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