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The Search for Science Based Leadership

By: Daniel Prince

Science is the study of a subject.  Science is very helpful for the understanding of the physical world. Science allows for predictions of future events. Physics, mathematics, chemistry and biology all help us understand what is happening in our environment. For example, from physics we know gravity, from mathematics we know geometry and calculus, from chemistry we know chemical reactions and from biology we know about how life is formed.

As people, like other animals and plants, the outer appearance of ourselves, i.e., our body lives in the physical world. However, our emotions, soul, thinking, consciousness, behaviors are not outwardly present in the physical world. These vital attributes are the subject of great interest and study in various social sciences. Physics, for example, cannot help us explain what values we hold nor why we hold them.

I think that there is an infinite variety of individual human expression that is influenced by our senses, emotions and cognitive reasoning of stimuli. Commonalities and patterns of human behavior do exist which, however, often dramatically change over time. For example, views on religion, homosexuality, marriage, and leadership.

Position power was the dominant style of leadership for many years. Now that style of leadership does not work in most companies. Instead, great leaders are thought to be effective because they can influence those around them and possess gravitas and veritas.

Running a business successfully is the goal of most business leaders.  Many business people reach for scientific constructs to systemize their processes and structures to obtain reliable outcomes.  They should not however, expect to achieve the desired outcome with any level of confidence as is the case of the sciences. This is because the “scientific” foundation being used in business is not sufficient. The probability of attainment of the desired outcome cannot be calculated involving people.

The overall success of people and organizations, in the end, is more a function of individual and collective capabilities, a willingness to learn, practice, passion and good habits. Running a great company that is successful and sustainable in a global marketplace is competitive and challenging.