Values Trump Rules

November 19, 2013

The last two postings, which were about rules and rule-making, have quoted from how:  Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything by Dov Seidman. The book deserves at least this additional commentary.

Mr. Seidman posits that in the modern world of hyperconnectivity and transparency (which he describes in detail), there is no such thing as “private” behavior. It’s all public and, therefore, how we do things is more important than what we do.

He states that to stand out in a positive way, an enterprise must “outbehave” the competition. And he says, such behaviors do not follow rules, they flow from values.

This means, according to Seidman, that effective leadership in this environment will be less about coercion (rules) and more about inspiration (values). Leaders will spend less time talking about the carrots and sticks of managing people, and more time focusing on “values and missions worthy of their commitment.”

It’s a shift from “task-based jobs” to “values-based missions;” a transformation from “command and control” to “connect and collaborate” leadership. “It’s a move from exerting power over people to generating waves through them.”

Instead of talking about organizations that are too big to fail, Seidman says we will have organizations “that are too sustainable to fail, too principled to fail, and too good to fail.”

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on on January 8, 2013.)

I try to start each new school year at the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association summer camp at Michigan State University. I talk briefly about who the MHSAA is and what it does; and then two or three dozen high school newspaper editors and writers ask me questions; and in doing so, they give me clues to what’s going on in our schools and what’s important to our students.

Several years ago, when I opened the session to questions, one young man asked: “Mr. Roberts, what’s your job?” I paused, and then said, “I guess I’m the head cheerleader for high school sports in Michigan.”

So then this precocious student asked: “Okay, what do you cheer for?”  With a briefer pause, this is some of what I said:

  • I cheer for sportsmanship that’s not merely good, but great.

  • I cheer for sportsmanship, not gamesmanship.

  • I cheer for playing by the rules, both the letter and the spirit.

  • I cheer for maximum effort to try to win each and every contest.

  • I don’t cheer for winning at any cost; I do cheer for learning at every opportunity.

  • I cheer for losing with grace and for winning with even greater grace, with humility and modesty.

  • I cheer for the lessons of victory and the even greater lessons of defeat.