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Do No Harm

June 22, 2009

Too often, too many leaders confuse the ability to act with the need to act.  Codes of ethics in many professions, such as medicine, recognize and seek to warn, if not guard against, this tendency.

Our first obligation as leaders is not to ourselves, or for that matter any other individual.  Leaders have an obligation to work for and in the best interests of the wider collective, the organization, and society as a whole.

All leadership begins with change.  And change involves aligning action with the environment at every level and in every way: physical, technical, economic, social, political, legal, but most of all moral or spiritual.

Leaders have a profound effect on the cultures of their organizations and communities.  Therapeutic, caring cultures capable of renewing and re-norming themselves to changing conditions reflect their leaders’ inner calm, confidence, and competence. Developing these inner, personal abilities and orientations is among the greatest challenges facing any leader.

The best leaders know not just what to do and how to do it, but also when to do it.  And perhaps more importantly, when not to.  Without a strong sense of moral purpose anchored in values of equity, integrity, and empathy, we may confuse our personal interest with the wider interest and act with inappropriate if not unseemly haste.

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