Thich Nhat Hanh

All posts tagged Thich Nhat Hanh

A Time of Giving

Published November 19, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

Wednesday Thx

A special thanks to everyone who has been participating in our first Giving of Thanks Audiobook Collection Giveaway! We appreciate your celebrating this season of gratitude with us.

Anyone interested in participating, simply send an email with GIVEAWAY in the subject line. Then submit your name in the body of the email and send it to us at:

mediamagick@yahoo.com.

We will award ten lucky winners the entire collection of our accelerated learning business life audio book series at the end of November! Good luck everyone!

Zen Master Hahn

(Note: This is a re-edited version of an article Mayr posted earlier this year).

Upon reflecting on the many teachings I learned from reading Zen Master Hanh’s book, Work: How to Find Joy and Meaning in Each Hour of the Day (2012); one of the most significant discoveries for me was realizing that most people were feeling just like me – burnt out from dealing with pressures from work, expectations from colleagues, commitments to loved ones, financial obligations, relationship issues, and so forth. As tensions continued to build, more and more of us were unable to operate at full capacity. For example, because many individuals are currently operating with low tolerance levels, more often than not, they are inclined to respond quickly with short explosive fuses that tend to result in destructive, and in extreme cases, engage in acts of violent conduct.

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People that react from fear and panic, initially respond from a fight or flight state of mind. That is when the reptilian part of the brain takes over which instinctively goes into survival mode. It is from this heightened state that typically many individuals engage in behavior with little or no regard for ethical outcomes. Their only objective in operating from this attitude is a successful outcome. In other words, irrational responses are more likely to occur when decisions are made quickly from an extreme emotional mental state, rather than allowing a moment to think of a situation appropriate response before taking action.

There are exceptions, of course, when life and death situations occur. A split second decision in an emergency may be crucial. Under these conditions taking a moment to think rationally may not be an option. However, in other instances, when pressure is mounting in an individual’s personal or business life, in addition to their feeling that the world is in complete disarray, the sensation of hopelessness can prompt some individuals to behave irrationally; giving in to unethical or destructive behavior.

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It seems logical, that especially during those times when we feel that: (a) the world seems unfair, (b) an escalating amount of respected leaders are caught behaving unreasonably, and (c) more people than not, seem to be engaged in misconduct, that is when we really need to get involved and help make positive changes. Not just in our immediate environment, collectively, we also need to become more cognizant of our contributions as a global family. In other words, take accountability when we make mistakes, bad judgement calls, or hurt others. It also requires that we engage in behavior that reflects mindful, responsible citizenship in our business affairs and home environments.

One way to achieve this is to help cultivate an ethical climate by making conscious choices to conduct ourselves reasonably with common sense and compassion for others. For example, when we encounter people or an institution engaged in unethical behavior like cheating, stealing, lying, or illegal conduct, we are faced with one of three choices: (a) expose the behavior, (b) ignore the behavior, or (c) participate and condone the behavior. If we choose to expose the behavior, we risk being chastised as whistle blowers, but by courageously moving forward we can help achieve ethical outcomes. If we ignore the behavior, we avoid the risk of not fitting in as a player at the corrupted culture and save everyone involved the embarrassment of getting caught. However, by keeping silent, we are helping to enable unethical behavior. If, on the other hand, we choose to condone the behavior, even participate in it, we are not only contributing to an unethical culture, we are gambling that we will not get caught or face the consequences for engaging in misconduct.

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This is where ethics comes into play. In my publication, Ethics in the Real World (2013), I explained that individuals who make the best ethical choices do not engage or support strategies that include lying, cheating, stealing, or illegal conduct.  The truth is, most people are not interested in conducting business with others they do not trust. Furthermore, leaders who lack ethics and cultivate a culture of fear are not likely to earn respect from their staff or the community for that matter (Berry, 2013). When individuals, whether in respected positions of power or not, use tactics of intimidation, illegal conduct, misdirection, or get caught in blatant lies, they jeopardize tarnishing their reputation and credibility permanently.

Thich Nhat Hanh (2013), however, compares all our emotions to weather events—they blow in, remain for a time and move on. He suggests that if we stop all our thinking when these storm fronts of strong emotions develop (and I will add “refraining from verbalizing and directing toxicity towards others” to this list), we can help prevent fueling the fire. Instead, we can choose to apply mindful practices like breathing and walking strategies as coping techniques, that will not only calm down our breath when we are feeling out of control, they also serve to help calm the body and mind (Hanh, 2012).

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The truth is, we all have strengths and weaknesses and will continue to face many temptations throughout our journey in life. Although it may take only one person to help shift a corrupted culture, it still requires others to follow suit. Taking all this information into consideration can help us understand more clearly why it makes sense that during those times when we are feeling most vulnerable, confused, and overwhelmed with emotions, that including a component of ethics in the decision making process can help us achieve outcomes we are content to live with.

That’s it for this post. Until next time …  Be mindful and stay organized!

organizational management business skills publications nov 2014

For more information on Media Magic’s digital publications, or to purchase any of our accelerated learning Business Life titles, please visit our website at:

Media Magic Publishing.

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Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful. – Thich Nhat Hanh

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References:

Berry, M. A. (2013). Ethics in the Real World. USA: Kindle Direct Publishing.

Hanh, T. N. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

A Time of Thanks

Published November 17, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

Monday Thx

A heartfelt thank you to everyone participating in Media Magic’s first Giving of Thanks Audiobook Collection Giveaway! We are deeply grateful for your continued support and celebrating this season of appreciation with us.

Anyone can still participate. Simply send an email with GIVEAWAY in the subject line. Then submit your name in the body of the email and send it to us at:

mediamagick@yahoo.com.

Then, at the end of November, we will award ten lucky winners the entire collection of our accelerated learning business life audio book series! Good luck everyone!

Zen Master Hahn

In the meantime, to honor a great teacher that has recently fallen ill, I was inspired to post a few articles this week that I published earlier this year. These posts were influenced by the gentle teachings on mindfulness, from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, because the truth is, that many of his books have been instrumental in providing me tools on how to stay focused, balanced, and cope with stress in this wacky world we live in today. A world that includes food shortages, unemployment, natural disasters, and the shock and horror of war! Is it any wonder that so many of us are on the edge, stressed, and sleep deprived, struggling to manage anxiety and process emotional states of depression?

It seems that conflict, discontent, and corruption are found within every fold in the fabric of life all around us — in our communities, governments, spiritual and academic institutions, the workplace, and of course at home, away from the public’s awareness. The negative input individuals are constantly bombarded with from such conditions, have contributed to a collective consciousness of defensive people ready to engage in battle at the drop of a hat. Many are working diligently to suppress their feelings of deep rooted rage which continues to build as they process the added pressure exerted on them.

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As a result, many feel displaced and confused about their values or what their purpose in life is for that matter. This is one reason a person can lose focus at work leaving them vulnerable to making costly mistakes or engage in altercations with colleagues. Some even become confused over career aspirations while others are trying to discern who is authentic and trustworthy. Individuals that operate from this mindset risk advancing heightened levels of emotions which can eventually escalate into feelings of panic if they are not addressed. From this state of anxiety it is understandable how a person can travel down a corridor of darkness and despair unless they are able to find a way to manage their concerns in a healthy manner.

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In a corporate setting, managers that look away or allow this kind of behavior to go unchecked, not only risk creating more harm in an organizational setting, it may also lead that staff worker into believing they have no one to turn to for help, or worse, there is no one they feel safe enough to seek counsel from. When a sense of hopelessness reaches this level that individual also risks losing faith in their own abilities and intuitive reasoning. This is why many lose motivation to participate at work and eventually begin to feel the same about life in general, risking eventual self-destruction. At this stage the individual risks becoming so imbalanced they are unable to function productively and may even eventually lose their ability to cope or behave in an ethical manner.

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These are some of the outcomes that occur if growth strategies are not implemented.  In a business arena, the best growth strategy is a well-planned one. In fact, there are many studies to support that implementing growth strategies are more likely to yield positive outcomes as well as higher performance levels. Liker (2011) for example, postulates that growth strategies are implemented because they enable improvement considerably and in a shorter period of time. This is achieved by developing a framework that encourages perpetual growth which can help achieve some of the following outcomes: (a) a significant upper hand in operation excellence in a relatively short amount of time; (b) the development of systems that target and eliminate toxic behavior; (c) smoother operations with respect to receiving and delivering messages; and (d) the ability to adapt to changing environments rather than respond from a reactive position (Liker, 2011). In other words, effective growth strategies encourage continuous improvements while eliminating waste.

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In addition, growth strategies can play a role to help individuals establish and reach their desired destination. For example, when an individual plans for a road trip, without the use of a map or a GPS system to guide the traveler to their journey’s end, the navigation process can become more difficult. This is a good way to approach growth strategies – as the road maps that help with expansion to reach desired outcomes. Coulter (2010) suggests that growth strategies can help in the development process because they assist in locating and allocating resources that can transform the individual’s capabilities into distinctive functional competencies that others are unable to easily duplicate (Coulter, 2010). In short, effective growth strategies can help individuals achieve their goals quicker because they consist of focused detailed plans.

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By applying some of the growth strategy principles I discovered in my organizational management research work, which are compiled in my digital publications, I feel better equipped to weather and navigate through various emotional storm systems that emerge because these strategies are based on the scientifically proven principles of positive psychology. This approach has been significant in my own ability to work through moments of darkness as an effective tool to help minimize destructive outcomes, which continued to re-occur when enhanced emotions guided my actions.

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As we all have experienced at one time or another, when emotions are out of balance, it is difficult to perform at optimum levels because we put focus on input that works against our energetic current, rather than feeling gratitude for all that is flowing harmoniously in our world. In other words, by focusing only on what is not working in the world, or in our lives, it feels like we are trying to swim against a strong current rather than sail with it.

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Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (2012) stated that once we learn how to manage enhanced emotions we can experience more rewarding relationships. In addition, keeping channels of communication open can also help us cultivate more joyful experiences in our lives (Hanh, 2012). Growth strategies offer us a different way to navigate through and manage challenging events more effectively without fueling the situation even further by focusing on negative thoughts or energy patterns.

That’s it for now! Until next time … stay organized!

2 organizational management business skills publications nov 2014

For more information on Media Magic’s digital publications, or to purchase any of our accelerated learning Business Life titles, please visit our website at:

Media Magic Publishing.

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Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. – Thich Nhat Hanh

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References:

Coulter, M. (2010). Strategic management in action (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Hanh, T. N. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press

Liker, J. (2011). Design for Operational Excellence. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Mindfulness: A Closer Look

Published July 23, 2014 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Have you ever heard someone describe people that act without thinking as “being asleep at the wheel?” This is one way to identify individuals that are not mindful of their behavior or actions. In my eBook, Ethics in the Real World (2013), I point out that unlimited power without compassion encourages unlimited corruption (Berry, 2013). In other words, people who are not mindful of their actions or behave without regard for consequences typically find it easier to engage in unethical behavior. Mindfulness, on the other hand, is the act of behaving in a conscious manner. Plum Village founder Thich Nhat Hanh (2012), describes mindfulness as the act of bringing one’s full attention to what is happening in the present moment. He suggests that when we bring our minds back to our bodies, we are focused on the present moment (Hanh, 2012).

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Hanh further explains that mindfulness is a kind of energy that helps us to be fully present so that we can live our lives in the here and now. Students at Plum Village for instance, are educated and understand how to work with this energy. Individuals are trained in techniques that will help them focus on mindful awareness as a means to achieve successful outcomes. To begin the process, they learn the practice of in-and-out breathing exercises. What is appealing about this technique, is that in various ways, any one of us can easily engage in these tactics to generate our own energy of mindfulness. For example, when we center our attention on breathing in-and-out, we are focused on the air moving in and out of our body, putting other thoughts aside. Hanh refers to this technique as mindful breathing. Likewise, when we drink a glass of water or a cup of coffee and focus all our attention on nothing else but drinking, he calls this practice mindful drinking. When we walk and focus our awareness on our posture, our breathing, our legs, and the footsteps we take, this technique is called mindful walking. All of these examples illustrate strategies for practicing mindful awareness.

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When we focus our attention first on our breathing, Hanh asserts that we are able to unite the body with the mind, bringing our full attention to the present moment. From there, we can become more aware of everything that’s happening in that moment and observe it with a fresh perspective, without getting caught up in our past experiences or consumed by anxieties about the future. By applying these concepts, we can transform any ordinary behavior into an act of mindfulness, including brushing our hair, washing the dishes, walking the dog, eating, drinking, and even working.

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Incidentally, mindfulness is not just being mindful about positive things either. For example, when joy manifests, we practice mindfulness of joy. When anger manifests, however, we practice mindfulness of anger. Whatever strong emotion it is that arises, if we learn to practice mindfulness of that emotion, in other words, acknowledge it, not suppress or act on it, then transformation can occur which enables us to find more joy, peace, and awareness. These proven strategies have been effective for encouraging ethical behavior with successful outcomes at the Plum Village Community. The good news everyone, is that we don’t have to move to Plum Village to have these experiences. We can also learn how to incorporate mindful behavior to achieve positive changes that can also help us to develop more meaningful relationships. On Friday we will examine some of the techniques to achieve this and find out how one successful corporate executive fit this practice into his schedule. We will also learn more about how we can apply these techniques in our own lives, anywhere, anytime. Until then be mindful and stay organized!

References:

Berry, M. A. (2013). Ethics in the Real World. USA: Kindle Direct Publishing.

Hanh, T. N. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

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Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler. – Albert Einstein

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Ethics and Law

Published August 14, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Ethical theories help individuals to decide what is morally right. The concepts of right and wrong are determined by the group to which one belongs to. Geisler (1989) suggests that ethics is defined in terms of ethnics or what the community deems as morally right and that each society creates its own ethical standard. Similarities that exist between different social groups for instance, result from common needs and desires rather than universal moral prescriptions (Geisler, 1989). In a business environment, leaders must rely on their own views of morality and ethics to assist them in the decision making process. However, there are times when a leader is confronted with making a decision and is required to determine whether it is more important for the organization to engage in ethical practices or lawful ones. For example, many lenders in the mortgage and loan industry approved home loans for individuals who were not qualified. These practices were justified because of loopholes in the legal system. In this case, executives acted under the notion that their conduct was well within the parameters of the legal framework, and skirted past the ethics issue.

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Leaders that find themselves in situations such as this, where they confront challenges that require them to make a choice that is lawful or ethical can draw from a variety of philosophical theories to help them make the most effective decision that will benefit the organization and their stakeholders. Seaquist (2012) outlines the following philosophical theories that help guide the decision makers: (a) ethical absolutism, religious fundamentalism, utilitarianism, deontology, ethical relativism, Nihilism, virtue and justice ethics (Seaquist, 2012). For example, if a leader in the mortgage and loan industry relied on the religious fundamentalism of Christianity, the executive would look to God’s will as to what is right or wrong to help guide their actions. This philosophical style is similar to the ethical absolutism, in that right and wrong concepts are absolute and do not change. Religious fundamentalism relies on the doctrines of truths laid out by the prophets and interpreted from Biblical scriptures. In this respect, an executive’s views are defined on a Christian’s perspective of ethics based on God’s will, which is absolute. From this philosophical view, an executive may choose to assist families that are at a disadvantage for making a first time home purchase, and engage in business practices they deem lawful, even though it may be considered unethical. In this respect, as a Christian, the individual’s choice is to find a way to help others first which in God’s eyes is good, even though the behavior, in the eyes of the financial institution they represent may consider it unethical.

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A leader, on the other hand, that draws conclusions from a philosophy that embraces ethical relativism, rejects the concept of absolute moral values. These leaders do not conform to ideas that moral judgments are finite. Huemer (2005) postulates, that ethical naturalism and intuition also play a role that can influence individuals. Ethical naturalism for instance holds the view that right and wrong can be identified by whatever promotes human welfare and happiness. Ethical intuitionism, on the other hand, refers to a philosophy that some things (actions, states of affair, etc.) independently consist of one’s attitudes towards various situations (Huemer, 2005). This view embraces an attitude that at least some moral truths are known intuitively and subject to individual interpretation. In other words it is generally understood that some moral truths are known directly and not through the perception of a person’s five senses, or based of other truths. Like the ethical relativism philosophy, they deny the existence of absolute moral principles. Leaders that conform to this kind of philosophy are focused on following the parameters of the laws and although are concerned with ethical values, do not place it as a priority in the decision making process. For example, an executive that embraces this philosophy may approve a loan to the tobacco industry to make a huge profit for the organization, even though it may be deemed unethical to support an industry that hides the harmful effects of their products. In conclusion, each leader must decide for themselves the kind of leadership style they intend to embrace and how they run their business efficiently. Hanh (2012) reminds us that business leaders do not have to sacrifice happiness or their values, to make a profit (Hanh, 2012). Business leaders that cultivate an ethical climate will automatically operate their organization within the framework of the law and incorporate this attitude into their codes of conduct. This effective leadership strategy is more likely to ensure an organization’s long term success.

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References:

Geisler, N. (1989). Christian ethics. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group.

Hanh, T. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

Huemer, M. (2005). Ethical intuitionism. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan.

Seaquist, G. (2012). Business law for managers. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Leadership and Corporate Culture

Published July 26, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Executives have the power to shape corporate culture and motivate ethical conduct. Most leaders consider themselves ethical. Some, however, question whether ethics is a relevant component of leadership. Boatright (2009) contends that it is just as important to embrace ethical behavior in public life as well as in private life. Most corporate moguls are under the impression that behaving ethically alone is enough to sustain them as an effective leader. In fact, studies suggest that leaders do not believe specialized skills or knowledge in ethics are necessary to produce effective results in the work place (Boatright, 2009). This is a false perception. Situations arise more often than not in a business environment where leaders cannot easily resolve issues without identifying the ethical implications. This research focuses on the role a leader plays in the development of an ethical corporate culture. It takes a closer look at the importance of ethical leaders and the various roles they serve in an organization.  In addition, this study will illustrate the relationship between ethical leaders and their stakeholders. The analysis will also examine various leadership styles, the impact they have on corporate culture, how they affect ethical-decision making, and draw from examples to support this investigation. The findings of this research will conclude that leaders, who engage in business practices without ethical rules and regulations, will eventually discover that ethical misconduct behavior can easily become an inevitable component in their future.

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Importance of Ethical Leadership

The most successful leaders use their power to shape corporate culture and motivate ethical conduct. Because they are in the business of making a profit, they design strategies to achieve desired outcomes. Deepak Chopra (2012) reminds us that life is riddled with challenges, obstacles, and situations that leave many individuals asking the question, “Why is this happening?” No matter what advantages an individual may possess – money, intelligence, charismatic personality, a positive disposition, or influential social connections – none of these elements offer a magic key to effective leadership (Chopra, 2012). Managing directors are continually faced with difficult challenges. How they manage these trying situations can make the difference between the prospect of success and the threat of failure (Chopra, 2012). For example, when leaders cultivate an environment of fraud and deceit, they are fertilizing the ground for failure and destruction. In order for an executive to be considered an effective leader, they must have the ability to: (a) guide a corporation to profits for the sake of the stakeholders, (b) achieve organizational goals in an ethical manner, and (c) motivate their employees to adhere to behavior that is in alignment with the organization’s code of conduct.

Consistency also plays an important role for successful executives. The most effective leaders incorporate policies that inspire high performance levels and motivate organizational behavior that goes beyond just observing regulations. When leaders establish trust with subordinates, they earn the loyalty of their staff. In return, employees trust their leaders to protect them from harm in return for their services, dedication, and loyalty. By making choices to work in partnership with their employees, leaders can help them achieve greater levels of success than perhaps even they realized were capable of achieving. Employees who respect their supervisors, feel supported and appreciated by them, are more likely to become motivated and go beyond just achieving organizational goals.

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Leaders and Stakeholders

Stakeholders provide leaders another reason to cultivate an ethical culture. As a leader, it is their responsibility to make sure the company is guided towards the path of success and profit for the benefit of the stakeholders that support them. Executives, therefore, must incorporate effective strategies and hire the appropriate talent to reach desired outcomes as part of their responsibility to the employees, consumers, suppliers, and society as a whole. Ferrell et al. (2013) posit that because stakeholders have the ability to affect corporate policies it is imperative that leaders find methods to use their power to influence positive outcomes. There are five power strategies leaders utilize to achieve their goals: (a) reward power, (b) coercive power, (c) legitimate power, (d) expert power, and (e) referent power. Studies suggest these five power bases can be implemented to achieve both ethical and unethical outcomes (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2013). For example, a leader that incorporates legitimate power believes they have the right to exert their influence and that others are obligated to accept it. This kind of power is typical in hierarchical environments where leaders are assigned titles and specific positions of authority. In this type of culture, stakeholders readily acquiesce to leaders who command legitimate power. In some instances, however, leaders use this power to engage in behavior that is opposite of their belief systems. These individuals use strict protocol and the chain of command to their advantage. This is typically one way leaders can influence individuals to engage in misconduct. In this setting, it is easier to establish a climate of deceit because subordinates are hesitant to disobey orders for fear of the punishment or termination. The leaders at the well-oiled Enron machine, for example, employed all five power strategies to maintain their grand illusion.

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Leadership Styles

An individual’s leadership style also plays a significant role in shaping the corporate culture and motivating ethical conduct. Glanz (2002) reports there have been many studies conducted to help determine the best leadership styles. Most conclude that effective leaders exhibit varying degrees of the following virtues: (a) courage, (b) empathy, (c) judgment, (d) impartiality, (e) enthusiasm, (f) humility, and (g) imagination (Glanz, 2002). The best leaders, however, continue to expand their knowledge, re-examine outdated business strategies, maintain smooth operations and high production levels, and motivate staff confidence. In his book, Leadership Aikido, John O’Neil (1999) introduced six concepts to achieve victorious leadership skills without harming others. These concepts were inspired by the martial arts tradition of Aikido. He ascribes the following six practices that enable leaders to assess and develop their fullest potential: (a) cultivating self-knowledge, (b) practicing the enigmatic art of planning, (c) speak the language of mastery, (d) allowing values to drive the decision-making process, (e) changing the outcome of failure to one of success, and (f) abiding by the law of unintended consequences. This method of leadership embraces the elements of aikido to help executives identify and overstep five major obstacles that impede progress: (a) failure to grow emotionally, (b) failure to make creative decisions, (c) failure to empathize, (d) failure to manage ego, and (e) failure to overcome boredom and alienation (O’Neil, 1999). Leaders that continue to develop effective leadership skills will most likely achieve higher levels of organizational success.

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The Decision-Making Process

The decision-making process also plays an integral role in how leaders influence corporate culture and motivate ethical conduct. Hanh (2012) posits that because leaders can get into difficult situations, they must have the ability to handle strong emotions in the workplace in order to maintain effective relationships. To achieve this they must keep communication open and become cognizant to avoid the creation of a negative or repressive work culture. The most successful leaders incorporate practices that help manage strong emotions and become educated on how to utilize these strategies in good times before strong emotions arise. This strategy offers leaders the ability to respond in a more skillful fashion and incorporate effective methods during a crisis (Hanh, 2012). For example, Hanh’s Plum Village organization has developed a culture that incorporates three positive influences of power to guide their code of conduct. They are love, understanding, and letting go. The leaders at Plum Village posit that these three influences of power help in the decision-making process because they are used as effective tools that focus on the release of suffering. Their strategies of operation are designed in a way that does not incorporate punishment or destruction. In addition, they conduct their business practices in a manner that protects the environment and all living things.

Leaders that incorporate ethical choices and learn corporate social responsibility operate a business free of worry and fear concerning their future because their business practices support the stakeholders and the environment rather than exploiting or depleting them. Leaders that possess the ability to listen to their own pain and to that of others are capable of finding solutions for transformation. The most successful leaders learn that ethical leadership can help them realize their goals with the support of their stakeholders. In short, leaders that continue to learn to take care of themselves first, have better knowledge of how to take care of others. This is one effective strategy that ethical leaders use to establish a culture that embraces harmony and respect; one that encourages employees to feel pride and joy.

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Conclusion

Organizations like Plum Village that focus on creating a culture of happiness have produced a community that stakeholders are motivated to invest in. Hanh (2012) posits they have created a model that does not focus solely on profit. They also cultivate a climate to create joy and happiness (Hanh, 2012). Businesses should not have to sacrifice happiness to achieve high levels of profit. Organizations that are destructive, engage in fraud, and operate without regard for stakeholders do not enjoy longevity. Leaders in this arena cultivate an atmosphere of discontent and anxiety. Executives on the other hand, who focus on cultivating a climate that motivates ethical conduct without compromising their ability to profit, are more likely to succeed and maintain the confidence and support of their stakeholders. For a workplace to function successfully and harmoniously there must be a code of behavior that everyone is willing to accept. The most effective method of making sure this is accomplished is for leaders to make it a part of their organization’s culture. The most successful do so by setting an example and participating in a leadership style that reflects ethical behavior. They must also include strategies to incorporate supportive speech and engage in actions that bring content and cheerfulness to themselves, their organization, and the community at large. The findings of this research conclude that leaders who engage in ethical misconduct and cultivate a culture of deceit will achieve disastrous results like Enron unless they embrace effective leadership skills that have the power to shape a corporate culture that supports and motivates ethical conduct.

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References

Boatright, J. (2009). Ethics and the Conduct of Business (Sixth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Chopra, D. (2012). Spiritual Solutions. New York, NY: Random House, Inc.

Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell. (2013). Business ethics and social responsibility (9th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Glanz, J. (2002). Finding your leadership style. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).

Hanh, T. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

O’Neil, J. (1999). Leadership Aikido. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.

The Work Experience

Published January 30, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Introduction

How we live and earn an income is crucial to our well-being.  For some, more than half our lives are spent working so it is imperative we analyze how we spend this time.  The work we do is in essence, an extension of who we are.  Occupations that we are passionate about can heal, nourish, and transform, as well as bring us peace and happiness.  On the other side of the spectrum, it can also create pain and suffering.  Zen Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh (2012) in his book Work, articulates that when we apply more awareness and a conscious mindfulness in every aspect of our lives, cultivating empathy and understanding in our professions as well, it can actually help us achieve an affable way of working and living harmoniously with others (Hanh, 2012).  In other words, our work can become an extraordinary way to express our greatest desires as well as provide an opportunity to create a source of income.

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The Evolution of Working Conditions

In the early settlements of America, the work experience was quite different than it is today.  At that time, it was mostly the men who actually participated in paid employment.  In fact, only one group of women could be called wage-earners:  the domestic servants.  By the nineteenth century however, the wage labor force movement allowed women to transit from family centered positions to paid income roles (Kessler-Harris, 2003).  Marriage however, was still considered the accepted industry for women where they were viewed as strong sturdy wives that managed the household.  The labor movements of the 1960s changed the face of the work force yet again and labor unions were founded to protect workers and worker’s rights which included: (a) fair hourly wages, (b) health care benefits, (c) better working conditions, and (d) other compensations (Dray, 2010).

Personal Experience

Each individual has a unique view and experience of what work means to them.  For example, to our father, a Greek immigrant with limited education, who entered this country as a displaced citizen due to the political turmoil in his homeland at the time, work in America, meant the opportunity to a better life.  Our mother, on the other hand, was raised in the US, achieved a high school diploma and was awarded a scholarship to pursue a higher education.  In spite of those achievements, she was discouraged by her mother to consider a career, as working women were perceived unfavorably.  Employed women were highly frowned upon during that period in our family history.  It was a culture that endorsed the woman’s locus of control to her domicile.  She, like many other women, was conditioned to believe that her priority was to remain in the residence with her children in the role of domestic engineer.  In doing so, she released her dreams to pursue a singing career and supported instead, our father’s career.  Work outside the home eventually became a necessity for her as well once a bigger budget was required to sustain our growing family.  As a solution our family literally served bread as a way of earning our bread so to speak, when we invested in a family restaurant business that our parents operated to provide a source of income.  In the meantime, our paternal grandmother was enlisted for child care services.  She was essentially railroaded to spearhead full time nanny duties with just room and board as her remittance.  (It is a customary in many Greek families for the elders to reside in the same household as part of a family unit).  This tradition however, left her a very bitter and angry woman.  Instead of enjoying her retirement years, in her view, she was saddled with raising four unruly children.

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Due to the established working conditions and the dysfunctional nature of our parent’s relationship, none of the children were motivated or inspired to assist or participate in the continuation of the family business.  In addition, our grandmother’s limitations that included (a) a lack of formal education, (b) the ability to converse only in the Greek language, and (c) an inability to drive leaving her confined in the home, was unable to establish any real lasting friendships or create a sense of personal freedom.  After fourteen years of what felt like slavery and isolation, she returned to her home country feeling unappreciated, unloved, beaten and worn down.  For her, work was an unpleasant experience because her limitations did not afford her many (if any) opportunities to spread her wings.  She was not an empowered woman and unable to communicate her needs, which added to the life-related stressors she experienced.  As a formerly independent woman, once the head of her own household, these new conditions created a life of confinement, with no compensation for her efforts, or a love interest to nourish her needs. From her perspective, everyone was pulling on her apron strings for the cooking, cleaning and other domestic services that were required of a full time service provider.

Our mother was similarly unsatisfied with her work conditions.  She was trained and skilled as a consummate singer and possessed the voice of an angel.  Rather than pursuing her talents and dreams, she was expected like all other proper women from that generation, to marry and play the role of a good supportive wife.  In marrying our father, she gave up her dreams, independence, and desires to pursue her own passions.  Those choices had a profound effect on her self-esteem and self-efficacy.

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Our father on the other hand, was cast in the dominant role.  He was conditioned and nurtured as the head of the family; the king of his castle.  He ran our household like that of a dictatorship based on his perceptions, experience, limited education and ethnocentric views.  He was the supreme ruler in our family whose methodologies were not to be questioned.  He was very affectionate and had a great sense of humor, but quite a strict disciplinarian.  When we made inquiries or asked for explanations, we received answers like, “Because I said so!”  Intelligent individuals require a more reasonable response and explanation.  Those kinds of responses fostered frustration and confusion to say the least.

Our parents were also part of the expanding fast food industry culture when they took over a local A&W Root beer establishment.  Their various ventures in the restaurant business were a means to make ends meet as we did not get a sense that our parents were passionate about their work.  This was indicative in their demeanor at the end of each work day when they returned weary, stressed, complained about the conditions, the work load, the employees, their limitations within the franchise, and were customarily too exhausted to plug in to their children’s needs.  At times it felt like we were only summoned as a quick after thought.  They were often too run down to engage in active listening or to participate in routine activities with us.  Observing these situations and conditions motivated all the children to follow their own passions to pursue occupations that inspire us.

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Conclusion

By engaging conscious and mindful practices in every aspect of our lives, from how we breathe, sit, eat, walk, think and behave towards ourselves and others, we can create a positive stress free environment in both the home and the work place.  The manner in how we engage in actions for example, like getting ready for work, preparing our meals, and managing our homes, has an affect on everyone around us as well as on the quality of our own lives.  When one member of a family or organization is suffering and in anguish for reasons that include but are not limited to: (a) not having needs met, (b) not receiving attention, (c) not getting support, or (d) have feelings that no one is listening, they are unable to function or perform effectively.  If it is not addressed, it can result in unhealthy behavior.  Giving attention to individuals in distress, acknowledging their issues and nurturing them can help a person resolve their problems and heal, which is ultimately beneficial to the entire organization and family unit.  In conclusion, while some work situations may not be ideal, mindful actions and compassionate choices can help transform and bring us happiness.  In short, how we conduct every aspect of our lives is an important component to our health and well-being both personally and professionally.

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References

Dray, P. (2010). There is power in a union. New York, NY: Anchor Books Publishing.

Hanh, T. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

Kessler-Harris, A. (2003). Out to work. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.