Ingredients for an effective leader’s culture: Values, choice and action

I have been reading a great book entitled, “Understanding Culture: An Introduction to Anthropological Theory” by Philip Carl Saltzman. In Chapter 3, “Agency in Human Action: Social Process and Transactions”, he summarizes his thoughts with a very powerful concluding sentence.

“Normative rules and values are transformed or replaced as patterns of choices and transactions shift. In processual theory and analysis, societal institutions and cultural values do not determine human action; rather action generates social institutions and cultural values.”

This statement summarizes and explains why so many of our leaders fail to see themselves as agents of change. I often say when teaching, “Don’t ask how to do something, ask why it hasn’t been done.” Saltzman’s perspective gives us the answer: human action.


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