The Key to Prosperity
by James F. Bracher
(To download this article as a PDF file, Click
The horrors now befalling Enron, Arthur Andersen, Global
Crossing and numerous other companies and institutions
may seem like punishment of the whole economy for the
excesses of a few in the 1990s. Yet when businesses fail
in their values, they rot from the inside. No one is doing
this to Enron or Arthur Andersen. They brought it upon
have created a world where the prevailing structures promote
the politics of convenience over the commitment of leadership.
During the Internet bubble, values came to be viewed as
expensive and conservative relics of the old economy.
The "relentless relativism of the new" saw values
as limiting, fixed and unyielding.
In the race to sell the greatest possible product or
service, the false promises of hollow values spoke too
frequently to what we would not or could not do. But the
angel of values rode into the whirlwind of the NASDAQ
craze and directed the storm to descend darkly across
many of our largest companies and institutions. We had
come to expect immediate gratification in the form of
instant wealth and overnight success.
However, it all starts - and ends - with values. In setting
a direction, leaders, like sailors, do not let storms
decide for them the direction they will go. Well grounded
leadership knows storms cause course corrections, but
the goals do not change because they never do. Storms
provide opportunities for us to recommit. Our leaders
must be secure in the knowledge that their values have
prepared them to guide us through turbulent times.
Twenty-three years ago my professional obligations moved
from Christian ministry to leadership consulting so that
supportive counsel could be more effectively integrated
with challenges toward excellence in both the personal
and professional lives of those with whom I came in contact.
It became necessary to find new avenues to assist those
in positions of responsibility because the mission of
my previous work as a pastor was to comfort the afflicted
and afflict the comfortable. However, that position was
overly focused on only half the job: comforting the afflicted.
Now, perhaps like never before, there is the need to afflict
the truly comfortable by holding up a mirror to those
who are in the worst position to see themselves, namely
those in power, whether economic, political, social or
religious. A mirror is essential.
Leadership is required for every group or organization.
Though many are chosen, few are called. Values such as
commitment, perseverance and integrity are too often "averaged
down" in a misguided search for "consensus."
Current circumstances demand a rethinking. We must reject
our "comfort with drifting" and seek the satisfaction
of setting direction, reaching destination, and fulfilling
our destiny. In those moments we will have found the keys
to prosperity: values in all aspects of living, both personally
James F. Bracher, creator of the Bracher Center for
Integrity in Leadership, is the founder and chairman of
Dimension Five Consultants, Inc. a management consulting
firm in Monterey, California.
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