Socratic Leadership


By Okello Okello

Is there anything business leaders can learn from Socrates? If anything then let us first start by getting to know who this man is. Socrates was a classical Greek philosopher who is credited as one of the founders of Western Philosophy. He came to fame through later classical writers most of them his immediate students namely Plato, Aristotle and Xenophon. He (Socrates) is widely known for his contribution in the field of ethics through arguments and self defense that puzzled most of his antagonists.

As an entrepreneur and apologist, I know that business leaders can learn a lot from this great philosopher, from ethics, bargaining, intelligence to reasoning.

1. Piety 

Socrates was so pious that he did nothing without the counsel of the gods, so just that he never did an injury to any man. This dependence on God is what most entrepreneurs lack, let me call it Socratic proslogion for now. The ability to have faith in God that all well thought-of ideas can work is a trait that can propel any business to higher levels. A lot of entrepreneurs lose hope so easily and shred their blue prints at early stages when they meet challenges. My advice is, seek counsel from almighty God and he will bless you with faith to believe that you can do it.

2. Temperate

Socrates never preferred pleasure to right. The ability to show moderation and self-restraint is very important when it comes to business. Successful entrepreneurs never do it for money but to change life standards of other people or to solve a need. When you are starting a business, my advice is; never put money first, always think of your customers and the value you are offering them. This is a concept that is very easily forgotten in business today. Accordingly, Socrates practiced temperance and self-denial to a degree which some thought ostentatious and affected

3. Intelligence

Socrates was so intelligent that he could not fault making judgement between what was good and what was evil. As a business leader, the ability to make right judgement is more than important especially in strategic management of any kind.  One very successful investor once told me, that it is never wrong to make mistakes but learn from them. His second advice to me was that it is okay to take risks, as long as they are critically thought of and well calculated.

4. Logical

Originating from the Greek word “Logike”, logic has got more than one meaning. a). It describes the use of valid reasoning, b). It is the study of reasoning. Socrates was a logician, who could reason out his thoughts in debates and arguments and that is how he won most of the accusations against him. A business leader should be a person who can reason well, logically and should tell when to quit if statistics do not tally. Business is about value both to the customer and to the entrepreneur and if any side is not gaining then it is time to apply logike.

5. Virtuous 

Socrates lived a life full of high moral standards. This could also be the reason why they teach business ethics in schools today. If something is not worth doing then do not it. My principle is; if something is against my moral and ethical standards then however good it is, I will not do it. Above all go to point one and know where the source of all morality comes from. Be pious.

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