Ayn Rand is perhaps one such figure of America who is as polarizing as they come and that’s saying something considering she’s been dead for more than three decades. Even if she’s gone, her take on Objectivism has been etched on paper, a of sorts, a literary legacy that she has passed on to the world at large. People have a love hate relationship with the author who penned ‘The Fountainhead’ and ‘Atlas Shrugged’ and these are considered by some to be the Holy Grail of philosophy.
What the naysayers don’t see is Ayn Rand and her books have the power to make you better leaders and help you polish your ability to create, innovate and strengthen your resolve to focus more on making a business more successful!
We can trace this back to the 7 Objectivist virtues that Rand put forth. According to her these virtues are a set of behaviours that all of us need to adopt and cultivate in our respective lives. When we direct the application of these virtues on our businesses, it will light a path to derive more value out of the work that is to be done.
Let’s take a look at what these philosophies for management are!
The first and primary virtue put forth by Rand is the deceivingly simple act of thinking before acting on something. The more you ponder over something, the more you can achieve. And what if you don’t put in some thought before taking a decision? Well if the idea to ‘just think’ sounds absurd to you, then ask yourself if the 5,300 ex-employees were being rational when they set up 3 million fake accounts to achieve the impossible sales goals outlined by their leaders.
This virtue highlighted by Rand will make sure that you’re free from the influence and control of others that’s both uncalled for and unwarranted. If you’re independent, you’re bound to be self-reliant and will be less inclined to accept the opinions that various people will have about you and your work. You can exercise rationality here and judge which opinion does matter. Rand herself attested to the fact that imitators will succeed but their success will be short-lived. She stated that only genuine independent thinkers like Walt Disney and Steve Jobs will be successful in the long run.
As per Rand’s virtue of integrity, your actions must be in accordance to the rational conclusions you derive. This of course is no mean feat especially today where the public court of opinion is more vocal and influential than before. Stay true to yourself, follow your gut and it will pay off eventually.
We know Rand means business when she said that the “most ruthless” honesty is the only way to go and to steer clear of the threat of self-deception. The disaster from 1986 was a stark example of this. The because leaders at NASA and at Morton Thiokol wouldn’t accept that the shuttle had a fatal defect in its rubber O-ring seals. Another interesting thing to be noted is that Rand outlined one single exception to the virtue of honesty. She said that you aren’t obliged to be honest to dishonest people.
The virtue of being just asks a person to judge others according to their actions and to be prepared to get judged and scrutinised in turn. The very fibre of justice relies on getting the facts straight and to judge them with rationality and independence of thought. Once you do all this, you can then go ahead and act on that judgement.
Rand states that productive work is the core purpose of life. It converts rational thoughts into concrete goods and services. Being productive paves way for material value as we can clearly see Rand argue in Atlas Shrugged that money was “the root of all good” not evil. When we speak of great examples of virtue of productiveness Edwin Land, inventor and founder of Polaroid comes to mind. When he passed away in 1991, he had 535 patents in his name.
Rand’s seventh virtue clearly highlights that the virtue of pride was very necessary to become the best version of ourselves. Pride fuels self-esteem which helps support one in both good and bad times. But pride has to be earned and it can only be earned by practicing and adapting to all other Objectivist virtues.
Rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productivity, and pride! If we apply these virtues in our work lives, there’s nothing to stop us from succeeding…!