The "Champion Code" for the Active Citizen Leader

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“With great power comes great responsibility”, said Voltaire. Unfortunately most Americans equate the quote to Spiderman, but that is another story. The leader of the team is the focal point for all the brand equity and social capital aggregated by the team. The leader becomes powerful. How do we ensure that the power is used for good?

My philosophy for good social sector leadership is that "Only a good person can become a good leader". Alternatively, "Before you can be a good leader you need to be a good person" which is similar to "Before you can be a good leader you need to be a good follower (and contributor).

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.
- Abraham Lincoln

Leadership is a responsibility and not a privilege. Power is responsibility. The team entrusts a lot of power in the hands of the leader. It is difficult to put external restraints on a person to control them. The best restraints on the abuse of power an internal restraints. A good person might be tempted to abuse power but will strive to use for the common good, the cause, the power untrusted to him.

An interesting group of people we can learn from are the knights, Vikings and samurai. Powerful warriors that developed codes of conduct that controlled how power was used by defining what is and is not acceptable.

Chivalry, commonly associated today with good manners and actions towards women, was originally a code of conduct for knights. Originally, knights were not "knights in shining armor" but warriors with a lot of power that sometimes abused the power for self-interest. Obviously monarchs and popes were not happy with dangerous powerful warriors (as were the ordinary folk that were usually the victims of these power abusers) and so a code of conduct, an organizational culture, was developed. Below are three variants of the code of chivarly which changed over time and location.

The knights were not the only ones that developed codes of conduct. Powerful warrior cultures developed similar codes and it is quite interesting how similarly they developed. Norsmen (Vikings) have the Norse Code of Conduct based on the Nine Noble Virtues. The Samurai of Japan had the Bushido Code based on eight virtues.

Look at the Code of Chivalry and the Norse and Samurai Codes.
There is a significant amount of overlap.

Cattle die, and kinsmen die, but honor never dies.
- Hávamál

All the codes center on the nature of honor and the character of the man. They also align with Aristotle's virtues and Plato's "cardinal virtues" (courage, temperance, justice, and prudence) as well as the concept of the golden mean.

Extending the old codes to modern times and modern needs for the social activist leaders, I propose the following:

Have a Cause
  • Belief in the cause
  • Act in the cause
  • Justice

Act with
  • Honor
  • Honesty
  • Valor
  • Sacrifice

Towards others have
  • Loyalty
  • Compassion
  • Humility

Quality of work
  • Excellence