Their destiny is destruction,
their god is their stomach,
and their glory is in their shame.
Their mind is set on earthly things.
Is That Heavy Weight Contender Actually A Light-Weight?
“Get that fat f^%ker out of my line-of-sight,” said Colonel Kelly. Captain Adcock, let’s call him, was marching at the front of the column as befitting his rank.
Unbefitting, the younger officer in an ill-fitting uniform spent more time in the mess hall than in the motor pool, more time riding than running. He was overweight. And the fat-free Col. Kelly would have none of it.
Captain Adcock was carrying a spare truck tire and was, coincidentally, incompetent. I would know; I was a barely competent officer myself (it takes one to know one and all that).
As the old joke goes, “It took an Act of Congress to make him an Officer and a Gentleman.” But no legislation can help appearances.
It is a truism that managers, like royalty, are always being watched–and judged. We ask others at the water cooler, “Does he know what he’s doing?” This is often hard to evaluate.
But there are other characteristics that are easier to appraise. We ask ourselves silently, “Does he look like he knows what he’s doing?”
We expect our bosses to make good decisions. And this requires the virtues of self-control and prudence. Alexandre Havard in his book, Virtuous Leadership: An Agenda for Personal Excellence, writes that, “Prudence enhances our ability to make the right choices…self-control to subordinate our emotions and passions to the spirit…” (Havard, 2014).
Virtue is the habit of character and is developed by daily practice. Havard reminds us that, “Leadership is character.” He continues,
The cardinal virtues of prudence…and self -control— leadership’s bedrock virtues— are principally of the mind and the will.
Prudence, the virtue specific to decision-makers, is the most important, since to lead effectively I need the capacity to make right decisions.
Peter Drucker would agree,
[I]t is character through which leadership is exercised, it is character that sets the example and is imitated in turn. Character…is not something one can fool people about. (Drucker, 1954).
Especially if it is the dominant characteristic noticed.
So what does a good or bad decision (maker) look like? The answer is unmentionable.
If the manager does not have prudence and the self-control of weight control, can he make good decisions? Leslie Kwoh a The Wall Street Journal reporter, writes,
While weight remains a taboo conversation topic in the workplace, it’s hard to overlook.
A heavy executive is judged to be less capable because of assumptions about how weight affects health and stamina, says Barry Posner, a leadership professor at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business.
He says he can’t name a single overweight Fortune 500 CEO. “We have stereotypes about fat,” he adds, “so when we see a senior executive who’s overweight, our initial reaction isn’t positive.”
The CEOs of today are also more visible than their forebears and must be camera-ready at a moment’s notice, composed while courting investors and ready to respond in a company emergency.
Excess weight can convey weakness or a “lack of control,” says Amanda Sanders, a New York-based image consultant who has worked with senior executives at Fortune 500 firms.
“Overweight individuals are perceived as being unhealthy and less energetic,” is noted in The Oxford Handbook of Diversity and Work, edited by Quinetta M. Roberson.
Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) was an Italian Dominican friar, priest and philosopher who gives us a definition of the sin of gluttony.
In his Summa Theologica, he writes, “Gluttony means inordinate appetite in eating…in respect of quantity one exceeds in eating too much.”
Carrying too much weight is a lack of discipline that is on public display. Gluttony is not a virtue; it is not good.
Six centuries earlier,
Gluttony was on the earliest lists of vices drawn up by…Benedictine-monk-become-pope Gregory the Great (ca. 540–604). These lists eventually evolved into the famous seven deadly sins (pride, covetousness, lust, envy, gluttony, anger, and sloth).
These sins are key because each sin begets “daughter” sins. For instance, Gregory says that gluttony propagates foolish mirth, uncleanness, babbling, and dullness of mind…Gluttony is deadly when a person makes a god of the belly.
Other early church thinkers would posit,
If one cannot conquer a deadly thought that has to do with the body…then how can one proceed to more insidious enemies that attack us only in the spiritual arena?
Or a physical tray of hostile Danish attacking at one’s elbow in an all-staff budget battle.
Controlling one’s appetite is a visible necessity of character—prudence and self-control—for a manager.
The manager who lacks these qualities of character—no matter how likeable, helpful, or amiable, no matter even how competent or brilliant—is a menace and should be adjudged “unfit to be a Manager and a Gentleman.” (Drucker, 1954)
Your Business Professor next saw Colonel Thomas W. Kelly a decade later in a televised press conference. He was Lieutenant General Kelly giving a briefing during the 1991 Persian Gulf War as the Pentagon’s most visible spokesman. Thomas Kelly attended North Catholic High School near Philadelphia; joined ROTC and graduated Temple University. He was disciplined. He was in trim shape.
He was a leader and looked like one.
Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. Philippians 3:19
Havard, Alexandre (2014-03-29). Virtuous Leadership: An Agenda for Personal Excellence (Kindle Locations 1048-1051). The Havard Virtuous Leadership Institute. Kindle Edition.
The Oxford Handbook of Diversity and Work, edited by Quinetta M. Roberson, page 27.
Drucker, Peter F. (2010-04-02). The Practice of Management (p. 157). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
Drucker, Peter F. (2010-04-02). The Practice of Management (p. 349). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.