Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Concept of Justice

Few would disagree that there are tremendous differences between people of different cultures.  Rarely do cultures or civilizations share the same outlook on anything, whether they have close proximity or not.  Obviously Americans do not share the same outlook on the world and life as do the Afghanis.  But then again, there may be even more differences between the Chinese and Japanese cultures and they are virtually next door neighbors.

So if it is a given that different sets of people do not usually share the same values, is there anything that everyone has in common, no matter where they originate or live?  I'm not a sociologist or anthropologist, but after spending time on six continents I think I have an answer.  If all people on Earth share one trait it would be the concept of Justice.  I'm not talking about justice in a legal sense.  Rather, I believe based on my experiences that all humans share an innate sense of when something is just and when it is not.  Some people may refer to this concept as people having a "conscience".  Yet I believe that description is too complex and is based at least in part on values (cultural).  I think that the sense of Justice people feel is almost instinctual.  Without any description, either written or verbal, humans from all over the world can view an event and develop a gut feeling as to whether it was "just" (virtuous) or "unjust" (tyrannical).

Why is this concept so important to discuss in the SimpleCIO blogosphere?  It relates back to the effectiveness of managers and organizations to (a) attract good people, (b) gain the respect and trust of these people, and (c) have the esprit de corps to be a competitive and vigorous entity.

Something that I tell my staff and others that seek coaching in order to become better leaders is this:  When you are in a position of power there is no such thing as secrecy or privacy.  Even if you think nobody is watching you or knows what you're doing, the fact is that you are always being observed.  Often this observation is done asynchronously, which means not in real time.  But rest assured that everything you say, everything you do, everything you write - it's all being viewed by one person and thus everyone.  In many cases, the simplest facial expressions and body language will have all kinds of context read into it.  Does that sound a little bit weird and maybe creepy?  Yes, it just might.  But all the same, it's true.  Just like in the modern hit movies in the "Hunger Games" series you should consider that your every move, action, and conversation is being observed by a much bigger audience than you ever thought possible.

At the company level, the phenomena is a little different.  Since a company is not a person, body language is impossible to incorporate.  However, people are always parsing the moves that a company makes.  Organizational charts are scrutinized, press releases are read for hidden meaning, and people compare notes on how they view the treatment of themselves and others.

So what is the point of this post?  It is quite simple. 

Point 1 -- Once you become a manager you will forever more be viewed like Jim Carrey was in "The Truman Show".  Since your actions will always be known, you will always be judged.  And since every person on Earth shares a similar sense of Justice, there is no escaping the fact that a consensus will develop over time on just what kind of person you represent.  Your actions will create a reputation that will (or will not) allow you to develop the types of teams and eventually organizations upon which you will rely for success.  If you are a "just" manager, you will prosper.  If you are "unjust", there is simply no way and no place to hide.  You'll only get one chance in life unless you are truly, truly charmed.

Point 2 -- As a company, remember that you still, ultimately, a group of people.  The business strategies that you collectively develop, as a company, will be weighed by your staff, customers, and investors.  (If you don't believe that then why is Google's slogan "Don't Be Evil"?)  If you make just decisions you will most likely be successful, even if you go through hard times.  If you do things that are unjust, no amount of corporate spin or clever words will hide that fact.

Ultimately all of us who have the sacred charge of leadership must decide if we are to be just or not.  Whatever decision each of us makes, know that we will all be known for exactly who and what we are.  The sense of Justice for all humankind is a universal trait.  If you strive to be a good, benevolent, and successful leader, act as if everyone is watching you at all times.  Because they are...

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