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“The Editors of the “Handbook for Teaching Leadership” say the following in their introductory chapter: “How does one teach leadership in a way that not only informs [students] about leadership but also transforms them into actually being leaders?” (p. XXIV)

“The sole objective of our ontological/phenomenological approach to creating leaders is to leave students actually being leaders and exercising leadership effectively as their natural self-expression. By “natural self-expression” we mean a way of being and acting in any leadership situation that is a spontaneous and intuitive effective response to what one is dealing with.”

-From the Abstract for Creating Leaders: An Ontological/Phenomenological Model, by Werner Erhard, Michael C. Jensen and Kari Granger

“”We assert that integrity (the condition of being whole and complete) is a necessary condition for workability, and that the resultant level of workability determines the available opportunity for performance. Hence, the way we treat integrity in our model provides an unambiguous and actionable access to the opportunity for superior performance, no matter how one defines performance.

For an individual we distinguish integrity as a matter of that person’s word being whole and complete. For a group or organizational entity we define integrity as that group’ or organization’s word being whole and complete. A group’s or organization’s word consists of what is said between the people in that group or organization, and what is said by or on behalf of the group or organization. In that context, we define integrity for an individual, group, or organization as: honoring one’s word.

“Oversimplifying somewhat, “honoring your word”, as we define it, means you either keep your word, or as soon as you know that you will not, you say that you will not be keeping your word to those who were counting on your word and clean up any mess you caused by not keeping your word. By “keeping your word” we mean doing what you said you would do and by the time you said you would do it.

“Honoring your word is also the route to creating whole and complete social and working relationships. In addition, it provides an actionable pathway to earning the trust of others.

– From the Abstract for A New Model of Integrity: An Actionable Pathway to Trust, Productivity and Value, by Werner Erhard, Michael C. Jensen and Steve Zaffron

“We argue here that the four factors we identify as constituting the foundation for being a leader and the effective exercise of leadership can also be seen as the foundations not only for great leadership, but also for a high quality personal life and an extraordinary organization. One can see this as a “value free” approach to values because, 1) integrity as we define it (being whole and complete) is a purely positive proposition, 2) authenticity is also a purely positive proposition (being and acting consistent with who you hold yourself out to be for others and who you hold yourself to be for yourself), 3) being committed to something bigger than oneself is also a purely positive proposition (that says nothing about what that commitment should be other than it be bigger than oneself), and 4) being cause in the matter as a declaration of the stand you take for yourself regarding everything in your life is also a purely positive proposition”

Werner Erhard and Michael C. Jensen


In this discussion we are not concerned with values or virtues. While Authenticity, Being Cause in the Matter, Being Committed to something Bigger Than Oneself, and Integrity can be approached as normative values we are not concerned with them as being right or good in some absolute sense, or with their absence as being wrong or bad. This is not a discussion of ethics, morality or virtues.

We advocate these principles not because they are “right”, but simply because they are in each individual’s personal self-interest and in each organization’s corporate self-interest.

These principles create workability, trust, peace, joy and private and social value.

They provide a path for individuals, organizations & societies to realize much of what people generally think ethics and morality produce.

These Four Ways of Being that Create the Foundations of A Great Personal Life, Great Leadership and A Great Organization are:

1) Authenticity: Being and acting consistent with who you hold yurself out to be for others, and who you hold yourself out to be for yourself.  When leading, being authentic leaves you grounded, and able to be straight without using force.

2) Being Cause in the Matter of Everything in Your Life:  Being cause in the Matter is a stand you take for yourself and life – and acting from that stand.  It leaves you with power.  You are never a victim.

3) Being Committed to Something Bigger than Oneself:  Source of the serene passion (charisma) required to lead and to develop others as leaders, and the source of persistence (joy in the labor of) when the path gets tough.

4) Integrity (in our model a positive phenomenon):  Being whole and complete – achieved by “honoring one’s word” (creates workability, develops trust).

Werner Erhard and Michael C. Jensen

Excerpts from: The only way is ethics: Andrew Hill on where Erhard and Jensen are coming from

“Werner Erhard and Michael Jensen look an unlikely pairing but their leadership teaching fits into a broad stream of business education and research about ethics and integrity. ”

“In ‘A Positive Theory of the Normative Virtues’, the draft introduction to their forthcoming book, they write that their desire to confront their own “personal contributions to the mess generated by out-of-integrity behaviour” was one trigger for their research. But it was the Enron scandal of 2001 that prompted business schools to refocus attention on this area. The financial crisis of 2008-2009 gave this effort new impetus, as management schools realised they had to bear some responsibility for the bad corporate behavior of their alumni. ”

“Jensen and Erhard’s latest work shifts the emphasis away from external incentives and structures to leaders’ internal motivation, encouraging self-examination and personal action. Whatever the strengths and weaknesses of this approach, managers seem to have an appetite for it. Another eminent Harvard professor, Clay Christensen – one of whose HBS classmates was the disgraced Enron chief executive Jeff Skilling – is about to publish a book, How Will You Measure Your Life?, offering advice on how to build a successful life and career that avoids ethical compromise. The 2010 Harvard Business Review article on which it is based is one of the best-read in the journal’s history.”

Andrew Hill is the FT’s management editor

Werner Erhard and Michael Jensen’s book on integrity is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press

Read the full article in the Financial Times