The Four Ways of Being that Create the Foundation for Great Leadership, a Great Organization, and a Great Personal Life

19 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2013 Last revised: 7 Jul 2015

Werner Erhard


Michael C. Jensen

Social Science Electronic Publishing (SSEP), Inc.; Harvard Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Date Written: November 22, 2013


In this paper we argue that the four ways of being that we identify as constituting the foundation for being a leader and the effective exercise of leadership are not only the foundation for great leadership, but also the foundation for an extraordinary organization and the foundation of a high quality personal life. One can also see this as a “value free” approach to values (values: “what ought to be,” as contrasted with “just the way things are”). This foundation is “value free” because each of the four elements of the foundation is a purely positive phenomenon (positive: just the way things are) that has no inherent normative content (nothing about what ought to be).

Each of the following is a positive phenomenon in that once formed each is nothing more and nothing less than the way things are.

1. Authenticity: Being and acting consistent with who you hold yourself out to be for others, and who you hold yourself to be for yourself.

2. Being cause in the matter: A declaration that is the personal stand you take on your relation to everything in your life (note that this is a declaration, not an assertion of fact).

3. Being committed to something bigger than oneself: Being committed to something bigger than your personal concerns for yourself (says nothing about what that commitment ought to be). And finally

4. Being a man or woman, or organization of Integrity: Your word to yourself and your word to others is whole and complete.

Keywords: Leadership

JEL Classification: M14

Suggested Citation

Erhard, Werner and Jensen, Michael C., The Four Ways of Being that Create the Foundation for Great Leadership, a Great Organization, and a Great Personal Life (November 22, 2013). Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No. 14-027; Barbados Group Working Paper No. 13-03. Available at SSRN: or

Michael C. Jensen (Contact Author)

Social Science Electronic Publishing (SSEP), Inc. ( email )

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Harvard Business School ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

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