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Minimal Leadership

Philosopher, ethicist, and author Sissela Bok believes that there is a set of fundamental that exists in every society -- values universally embraced because they are critical to group survival. In her book, Common Values, she divides these basic values into the following three categories:
1. The positive duties concerning mutual care, loyalty, and reciprocity.
2. The negative bans against harmful actions, including violence, deceit, and betrayal.
3. The rules governing the concepts of right and wrong, as well as the procedures for obtaining justice.
Bok explains that these "minimalist values" cross societal boundaries because they are critical to every society's continued existence. Furthermore, she suggests these common values give leaders a foundation on which to establish multicultural, problem-solving dialogues.

It's not a stretch to apply Bok's concept of minimalist values to the communities present within our workplaces. Workers everywhere expect their employers to maintain positive values such as treating people with dignity and respect, providing adequate training, and paying everyone fairly. Employees also count on their organizations to uphold negative values barring hurtful behaviors that include racial discrimination, sexual harassment, or polluting the environment. And workers expect their companies to enforce fairly internal policies that spell out right from wrong -- and they presume that company leaders will intervene if someone breaks the rules. These are the basic values employees look for in a company. They form the foundation of values-based leadership and, as such, they are critical to your organization's survival.

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