Nurturing the Right Values – Nu Leadership Series

An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Living in a nurturing environment plays a vital role in value formation for a leader. As Joas, author of The Genesis of Values, surveyed many philosophers on the genesis of values, he was seriously influenced by his background. According to Bass, a leadership expert, the values and beliefs of an individual that are shaped by his culture. This affect a leader’s behavior and actions.

In his book, Joas evaluates the concept of love through the eyes of
philosophy. The philosopher Kant viewed love as a commandment or duty while the philosopher Scheler viewed love as an expression of a fundamental relationship between God, an individual, and his neighbor. Kant’s view placed love as an “object of obligation.” However, Joas provides his own assessment. He argues that the love for God and humanity isn’t derived from divine ordinance; however, it has moral value.

Clearly, Joas’ quest to understand human action was influenced by his parents. Joas was intrigued by his father’s Nazi background. Joas explains,

“Why can people who are not devils believe such things and do such things? I say who are not devils because, of course, I loved my own father….The people you find terrible can be loving fathers, husbands, or whatever.”

This Nazi experience also transformed his mother into a Social Democrat with Catholic values. These revelations, along with his childhood poverty, caused Joas to become a social advocate. Religion became a catalyst in his value development.
Therefore, a leader’s background plays a critical role in his value development.


Bass, B. (1990). Bass & Stogdill’s Handbook of Leadership. New York: The Free Press.

Joas, H. (2000). The Genesis of Values. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Scharmer, C. (1999). Action is the way in which human beings exist in the world. Conversation with Professor Hans Joas, Freie Universitat, Berlin. Received on September 2, 2006 from

© 2006 by Daryl D. Green