Balance of Constituencies

Harmony is a constant theme in Asian philosophy , and it is equally important for Samurai like Musashi, who value: The harmony of a strong individual value structure, with the need for unquestioned loyalty to superiors and to organizations.

Harmony

The harmony of mind and body with the moment of action; knowing intuitively that what one does is exactly right for that unique set of circumstances.

The harmony of the skill of the sword, with the skill of the pen.

The harmony of the actions of the leader, who must win at all costs, yet who recognizes and reflects the values, the unique skills and the needs of his followers.

Constituencies

harmonyWe need to better balance today's constituencies. And the idea of "harmony" can help.

US and European business literature is top-heavy with "personal success and improvement" methods. However, whilst many try to balance the skills of a leader with the organization he or she is dealing with, few see "harmony" as either a personal or business goal.One exceptional writer and researcher in this field is Warren Bennis. His work on leadership stresses the need for "balancing economics, ethics and ecology", for today’s new paradigm managers.

Today, businesses have a constituency of at least four: Customers, Employees, Shareholders and Society at large, and a fifth, if one includes immediate Family. How many mergers, downsizings or assets sales have been done "to be competitive in the Industry", or "to better serve our shareholders"? How many moves are planned to truly make sense for all five of these constituencies?

One can also argue that there is a hierarchy of these constituencies. If the company does right by the shareholders, is that automatically right for the customer? If one does right for one’s family, is that right for the employees?

Balancing the complex needs of these five constituencies should thus be the principal task for today’s CEO’s. This can only be done if the CEO has a clear understanding of his or her own value structure, as it relates to each constituency. The CEO must respect each constituency, with a deep sense of service. And, the CEO can only manage this complexity with harmony and balance being forefront in his or her mind.

We explore this theme of harmony in "Samurai leadership: extreme balance".

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