A Critical Reflection on: Leadership & Enhancing Positive Change

One the changes in management I have noticed in the last decade or so, is the emergence of the Corporate Suite of Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Information Officer. Valdez1 has aggregated a mass of useful information, but his article itself lacks sufficient differentiation and organization; that is, it lacks an organizing paradigm. His article lacks evidence of one of the essential tools he asserts are essential in the skill-set of a competent leader,  a ‘conceptual framework’ organizing his material in such a way as it can be readily transmitted to and easily assimilated by his readers. Valdez does not lack what Ken Wilber calls an “All Quadrants and All Levels” (AQUAL)2 (p.67) understanding of his material, but he lacks what Leonora Leet 2 an understanding of the science of expressive form.

Applying Ken Wilber’s integral approach or AQAUL methodology to the material in this article, I find that Valdez article lacks both sufficient differentiation and organization.  All of the material in this article can be classified readily organized by utilizing a standard AQUAL chart.

On the left belong all the materials in the article relevant to interior development, or personal character and the elimination of what in modern psychology is called “cognitive dissonance”2 and what in leadership retreats is often referred to as ‘the radiant mind.’ The sharpest criticism I have of Valdez is he is long in cataloguing all qualities the personality profile of a perfect executive should have, but short in providing resources as to how the average leader is to cultivate such a character.  Implicit in this catalogue of attributes are the assumptions that change must come from within and the effective leadership is by role-modeling the desired characteristics.  I am reminded of my father’s favorite aphorism, and one he himself did not model, “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one.” 

At the time I was first entering management, I was coincidentally studying Tae Kwon Do.  When we see behaviors modeled by those in authority, we usually adopt them uncritically so as to assure acceptance.  Before and after the brutal physically repetitive work-out that was each class began we sat together as a class in the practice of Vipassana Meditation.  I will never forget getting wrapped so hard the head that it made me cry for not modeling the posture correctly the Master had just demonstrated.  In the course of my 30 plus years in management, I have explored many of the different transformational arts the worlds spiritual traditions have created as well as the techniques of modern psychology including bio-feed-back and cognitive behanvior therapy.  In the board room, I periodically use tools like Meyers-Briggs (I am a teacher-idealist) and the McQuaid Word Survey to stimulate change within my management team when I notice ‘’chi” or synergy is diminishing.  I demonstrate that the contemplative arts a the tools a good executive gives himself and his management team to keep us on the leading edge of creative problem solving.    

On the right side of the chart, belong all the materials in the article relevant to exterior development, the climate and culture of the company as perceived by the social construct in which the institution exists. One of the things that has fascinated me are the extreme differences between successful corporations like Apple (where Steve jobs was respected but hated) and Virgin (where Richard Branson is admired and loved). As I contemplate this article, Lao again comes to mind.

“The best leader is one whose existence is barely known.

Next best is one who is loved and praised.

Next is one who is feared.

Worst of all is a leader who is despised.” –Lao Tzu (Sutra 17, p.17)4


As part of my commitment to myself in this MBA program, I am seeking to transform myself into becoming the best possible leader I can be, i.e., one who is truly compassionate and selfless. John Paul II was an interesting leader to me (like me his personality type was that of the teacher-idealist), he was a man not without flaws in his character.  Still he believed in the moral force of compassion and that it was our first responsibility to become fully human.5 


I am 57 years old.  Since I was born the United States has been continuously engaged in war.  It is true that the WW II was a just war it seems to me, but since then we have become the Imperialistic Militaristic culture Hitler and Fascist Nazi Germany aspired to be.  This is not merely my opinion.  I refer you to the late Chris Hedges critically acclaimed book, “American Fascists.”7 The European Union was founded amidst the ashes of WWII to bring an end to the military-industrialism that was the turbine driving the engine of Fascism. A similar turbine is driving the a similar engine of systemic narcissistic nationalism and greed in American corporate culture. It is reaching pathological proportions as is evidenced by ‘the golden parachutes’ top American executives award themselves after they have mismanaged the company into bankruptcy.


“Compassion is the basis of all morality.” –Schopenhauer8


As long as profit is the principal purpose of our corporations all that about “a strong sense of moral purpose”  is bombast,  “a tale
told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” –Shakespeare9


I am committed to four pillars of leadership.  However, my pillars are the four bramaviharas of Mayahana Buddhism, Metta Kindness), Karuna (Compassion), Mudita (Joy) and Upekka (Equanimity). I am vigilant of what are identified as their respective near and far enemies of in myself:  Ambivalence and Hate, Pity and Contempt, Happiness or Greed and Jealousy and finally, Resentment and Exploitation.


I have not unpacked and organized this article here because I do not want to deprive you of the learning experience of doing it for yourself.  I do, however, invite all to engage in a passionate debate with yourself and strive to resolve the ‘cognitive dissonance’ which is stage in the life-long process of becoming fully human.


Mark Christopher Valentine

(© 22 October 2012, published @ dafreewhitewolfe.wordpress.com)



1 http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/educatrs/leadrshp/le700.htm

2 Wilber, Ken, “A Brief History of Everything.” Boston: Shambala Publication, Inc. 1996

3 Leet, Lenora, “The Universal Kabbalah. Rochester: Inner Traditions 2004

4 http://beyondthesidewalk.com/pdf/cognitive_dissonanance_marketing.pdf

5  Walker, Brian Browne, “The Tao Te Ching.” New York: St. Martin’s Griffen 1995

6 http://www.christendom-awake.org/pages/mcgovern/chrisanthro.htm

7 Hedges, Chris, “American Fascists, The Christian Right and the War On America.”  New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006

8 http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Arthur_Schopenhauer

9 Shakespeare, The Riverside Second Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company 1997

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