A Bonfire of Vanities!

(Global Leadership: A Study in Cross-Cultural Conflict Resolution)

CSUMB – EMBA, Bus 601: Week Three Summary

“The Many Become One and are Increased by One.”-Whitehead1

This week we studied leadership concepts or information that has been aggregated about what effective leaders are and are not. Concepts are static theorms of hypotheses that are genenally held to be true within a given frame of limit, that is they are only realitively true. They are not holonic in that they do not have independent existence.  Leadership, however, is more than the sum of its parts. It is not the mere aggregation of concepts or information, some qualitative as in traits and some quantitative as in skills. Rather, it is the refined or subtle noetic process of creative problem solving that can be studied as a construct. Leaders, unlike leadership, are holonic in that they have independent existence; that is, leaders can replicate and through communication transmit their traits and skills to another leader.   To study, compare and contrast or evaluate the relative abilities of one leader to another one has to entire into the field of statistics and probablity where, as Popper agues, things can only be disproven not proven. The aggretated literature on leadership suggests there are two fundmental types of leaders.  There is the leader who is a genius or maestro who radically transforms a field or discipline and change the shape of reality.  Then there are those sychophants who merely follow in the foots-steps of a chosen leader.  A meta-mythological example of this dualistic realtionship is seen in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Just as when upon departing from earth to heaven in his chariot of fire Elijah passes his mantel (symbol of authority) to Elisah, so Jesus before his execution is seen to pass his teachings and example to his chosen disicples, Peter in Particular.  However, examples about.  Plato assumed the role Socrates, for example.

The point being is that both types of leaders are necessary.  The former create movements.  The latter create institutions that preserve those movements. I prefer to refer to the former as meta-leaders or executives who manager managers and the latter as merely leaders or managers.  The meta-leader or consumante executive is both born and cultivated; that is, he must have inherited a brain that has the capability and capacity to  continuously its transform its neural net in response to the emergence of new information until is reaches a degree of complexity and subtly that established a new  high water mark of his culture and discipline.  Einstein is a universally acclaimed and undisputed example of a meta-leader in the discipline of science. In the study of business administration, I propose that we differentiate between the ‘entrepenuer’ as the meta-leader and ‘the ladder-climber’ as the sychophant.  The former is visionary and liberal to the point of being iconclastic, having a high risk tolerance.  The latter is conformist and conservative to the point of being a liability, having little or not risk tolerance.  The former creates corporations.  The latter preserve these institutions until market pressures prove them obsolete. Feudalism lasted until capitalism proved itself a more dynamic system.

In my meta-study focusing not on leadership but how leaders lead, I have integrated tools and techniques from the disciplines of Cultural Antrhopology, Hermenuetics-Literary Critcism, Process-Philosophy, Neurology, Psychology and Statistics.  Tools which the challenges I have met in my career as both an entrepeneur and an executive, I have found prerequisite to effective leadership and continuous conflict management: Managing conflict is not an event but a process.  I am indebted to the works of the following leaders in their still emerging academic disciplines; Claude-Levi-Strauss and Georges Baitaille in Cultural-Anthropology, Don Beck in Spiral Dynamics; Ken Wilber in Integral Studies; and to Umberto Ecco and Lenora Leek in Semiotics.  In writing this paper, I am, in fact, conscientiously impacting my MBA studies with the developments in these emerging disciplines within the global academic community.

I have been compelled to do this because while studying business leadership and management conflict resolution during week three in the syllabus of BUS601 in the EMNA Program in Global Leadership at CSUMB being taught by Dr. Linda Bynoe,  I find myself ironcially subject to censure, censorship and dismissal in a process that feels increasingly like a post-modern academic inquistion.  I have been accused of  ‘arrogance and contemptuousness toward my colleagues.’ My attempts to address these complaints resulted in my further being accused of ‘harassment’ for prefering the use of private email communcations to the ones provided by the ASLN MOODLE at CSUBM.  I am the author of a reseach paper on the topic of cross-cultural conflict management in which I myself am the subject of the case study at an institution where is seems that conflict resolution procedures are endanger of a dramatic failure with implications involving  both the rights  of free speech and judicial process.

Below is a rough diagram of the landscape as I preceive it from the perspectives of board-room.





-Gustave Moreau, Oedipus & The Sphinx

“The philosopher is always willing to make a clean breast of it.” –Schopenhauer5

Utilizing the work of Don Beck in Spiral Dynamics and Ken Wilber in Integral Studies, I classify California and CSUMB as a construct embedded in that construct as Blue and The Netherlands as Green.  The climate and culture of CSUM is modulated to address the needs of individuals in a culture seeking socialization as a relative higher good.  The members of Group B have split with Mark on climatic and cultural lines.  They form a demographic group with which Mark is unfamiliar.  Although Mark is a US Citizen and native Californian, he is significantly older than his class-mates.  His under-graduate education at UCLA was prior to the IT revolution.  During his graduate education at LMU he led the charge to replace type-writers with the first generation  of word-processors.  Moreover, although Mark is currently again living again in his native California, he has become a foreigner in the culture of his birth having lived and worked for ten years as ex-patriot he prefers European culture to American culture. He is tri-lingual.  From his perspective, EU culture is both broader and deeper, a perspective Beck and Wilber validate.

Mark has observed in the past that when a member of his international management team has mades an ad hominem – assaults on the character qualities rather than on performance quantities – on a colleague psychological conflict is arising between competing ambitious personalities seeking dominance. He implements a three step process of reconciliation by sitting down with the opposing parties face to face.  He insists on diplomacy.  He often opens by first saying “I understand arrogance to be an expression of self-righteous indignation.”Then asking, “How much arrogance does do you think it takes to accuse another person of arrogance?”  Mark then moderates of guides the discussion by probing the triplicate relationship between insecurity, incompetency and inadequacy relative to each other and to a mutually acceptable standard, i.e., Ghandi.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” -Mohandas Gandhi6

By this time in the moderating process, feelings are being assuaged and transformed into sensations, i.e., each party almost always realizes they are mutually responsible for the conflict, both are reacting from and to wounded feelings in the other. Eventually a moment of insight emerges and the transformation of feelings into sensations is complete, i.e., “You are arrogant” becomes “You intimidate me” or “I feel insecure.”  Once this moment of insight is reached, the triplicate process of ‘Confession (I am wrong, immature, etc), Contrition (I am sorry) and Satisfaction (equanimity reestablished based upon mutual acceptable restoration – “Let’s get back to work, we’re wasting time!”) Concepts are understood as constructs (processes in which as Popper7 argues convincingly that if we cannot prove something is right, we can at least demonstrate that it is not wrong,i.e., feelings are neither right or wrong they merely need to be managed effectively.

The problem that Mark sees himself entangled in is one, that for a lack of a leader with effective skills as a moderator, a spark that was created when egos with different climatic and cultural expectations clashed turned into a pyre whose un-checked flames are scorching the good earth of the institution being studied and creating an uninhabitable wasteland for all its inhabitants.

“Those who do not study history are bound to repeat it.” –Santanyana7

It is through effective moderation, that the executive cultivates the character traits in himself and his staff that are essential to leadership.  Compassion more often than not is a learned behavior.  It manifests rarely in the adult, but almost never in the adolescent.  Hence, knowledge leads to skill but experience leads to wisdom.  The essential trait every effective leader must cultivate is compassion.  He must become a spiritual director to himself before he can become a spiritual director of others.  He must lead by showing not by teaching.  I have found that contemplating various geometrical images, but especially process through the which the isocohedron emerges from the triangle, to be an effective tool cultivating my own radiant mind and heart!  For me, it is an essential tool on The Pathless Path of The Sacred Warrior.

“…clarity is learned by being

patient in the presence of chaos.

Tolerating disarray, remaining at rest

gradually one learns to allow muddy water

to settle and proper responses to

reveal themselves.” –Lao Tzu (Sutra 15 , p.15)8

Mark Christopher Valentine

(© 28 October 2012, published @ beyondborders – dafreewhitewolfe.wordpress.com)


1 http://www.jesusjazzbuddhism.org/the-many-become-one-and-are-increased-by-one.html


2  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiral_Dynamics

3 I created these images years ago myself.

4 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platonic_solid

5 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Schopenhauer

6 http://www.openfuture.co.nz/bethechange.html

7 http://voices.yahoo.com/philosophy-summary-karl-poppers-problem-of-5344401.html

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

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