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How much loyalty do I owe my boss?

Thank you for your valuable insight into how the world really works. It has proven true time and again in my life as you would expect. 

I have been offered a position with a competing company in my industry that pays more and offers a benefit package. In addition my new partner is a harder worker then my current one and also better connected in my city. 

I was hired in my previous position being told that eventually I would be approached like this and would I have the integrity to stay with the company I am currently employed at.

Do I owe my current employer a debt of loyalty since they gave me the position I currently have?

Thanks,

Gregg

Answer: 

Dear Gregg,

Thank you for affirming the value of our teachings in terms of how the world REALLY works!  We love hearing that readers enjoy our work but when people tell us that they found our teachings not merely interesting or enjoyable but actually useful, the fireworks go off for us.

Congratulations on the job offer. It’s always nice to receive validation that your work is recognized. Your letter raises a number of very interesting issues but omits some of the information we’d need to answer your question definitely. Nonetheless, we’ll try to be useful to you.

It isn’t clear to us if your present boss asked you to commit  not to accept an offer from this specific company or to make a general commitment of loyalty. It’s also not clear to us what your response was at the time you were hired.

We’re sure you can see that no employer should ask you for lifetime loyalty. (A commitment never to leave is nonsensical in all circumstances other than marriage.) That would make an employee into a serf, with no ability to better himself. Some firms do have non-compete clauses where employees agree not to join competing firms within a certain location or time. Even these agreements are being regularly challenged in court, because the idea of restricting someone’s free movement is problematic. A company retains good employees by offering inducements such as good working conditions, salary increases and a path to advancement, not by shackling them.

On the other hand, training a new employee is both dollar and labor intensive. An employee often doesn’t earn his salary in terms of adding to a company’s bottom line until a period of time has passed. It is possible that a competing firm has established a legal but unethical policy of poaching newly skilled workers just when they know enough and have enough experience to be valuable in their chosen field.

You aren’t asking us for legal advice, of course. You, admirably, want to do the right thing. We want to emphasize that we reject your current employer’s notion that remaining in this job is a measure of your integrity.  It’s your prerogative to seek to improve your situation always, including by seeking superior employment. In our view, if you gave a general commitment and you have been at your company for a reasonable time, let’s say two years, we think you should feel that you have discharged that commitment.

If, instead, you specifically gave your word not to move to the specific company that has approached you, then we think you should learn a lesson to be more careful with commitments, but that the ability to look yourself in the mirror means that you cannot accept this offer. It all depends upon what commitment you made – but doesn’t everything?

We hope this is helpful.  Let us know what you decide.

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

This ‘Ask the Rabbi’ question highlights the importance of what comes out of our mouth. Our best-selling CD download, Perils of Profanity: You Are What You Speak is on sale for only $5 right now. Check it out! (also available by mail)

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Say Little and Lead Much

Leaders enjoy many benefits.  People seen as leaders get promoted and opportunities come their way.  Parents whose children respect them as leaders have more functional families.   But how do you begin the process of getting others to see you as a leader?

We have all seen leadership in action.  Perhaps one participant at a meeting emerges as the clear leader of the group.  Or people listen more attentively to one person than to another.  Groups coalesce around the one individual who is regarded as more authoritative than anyone else.

I’m sure you’ve seen parents who enjoy such excellent rapport with their children that obedience is almost automatic.  It is clear that the children view the parents as leaders.  Authentic leadership skills that are effective in a work environment are also effective in a family or social environment.  We just need to know what these skills are.

The first and most important skill is to learn to use words sparingly.  Babbling is a sure way to jettison leadership credibility.  A crucial part of using words sparingly is to do more listening than talking. A great way to achieve this is by doing more asking than telling.  Imagine a parent concerned about his or her teenager’s friends.   If the parent starts shouting or accusing, the child switches off.  However, if instead the parent gently and firmly asks questions, exhibiting real interest and concern, information will eventually flow.

Negotiations follow similar rules.  Many of our interactions with others are really negotiations. Some are formally declared while others are negotiations masquerading as discussions or conversations.  The most common mistake is  to firmly articulate your position at the beginning.  People sometimes do this because they fear being seen as weak or being maneuvered into yielding ground.  Don’t for a moment think the other side is even listening to your opening position; they’re busy planning their own opening lines.

Instead, it is far more effective to draw as many words as possible from the other side by means of asking questions.  “Won’t you start by sharing with me some of your initial thoughts? I’d be interested to hear how you see this.”

This permanent principle of not talking unnecessarily is repeatedly visible in ancient Jewish wisdom.  We certainly think of Samson as more of a doer than a talker, right?

And Samson and his father and mother went down to Timnah, and they came to the vineyards of Timnah, when a lion roared towards him.  And the Lord’s spirit rested upon him, and he tore it as one would tear a goat, though he had nothing in his hand.  He did not tell his father and mother what he had done.
(Judges 14:5-6)

The first question to consider is why the lion roared only towards Samson (him)? Why does the verse not tell us that the lion roared towards them?  Even if that was so, all three of them went on this excursion together. Why would he need to tell his parents about something they saw?

The answer to the first question lies in the words telling us that they came to the vineyards of Timnah. Remember Samson’s prenatal history. The angel gave instructions regarding his mother and ancient Jewish wisdom tells us that she followed these rules for the rest of her life:

From all that comes out of the grapevine she shall not eat,
and wine or strong drink she may not drink…
(Judges 13:14)

Arriving at the Vineyards of Timnah, Samson’s mother elected to keep distant from the grapes and so she chose to circle around the vineyards with her husband.  Meeting up again with Samson on the other side of the vineyards, he keeps quiet about what occurred and they continued on their mission to Timnah.

There, a negotiation of sorts was about to occur.  A foreigner, Samson, was marrying one of the Philistine women.  Thirty men came in force to intimidate Samson. He proceeds to ask them a question in the form of a riddle.  As the story unfolds, only he and his wife know the answer, so when the men solve the riddle, it is clear to all that his wife betrayed him and that her people did not respect the marital bond.

…Had you not plowed with my heifer, you would not have found out my riddle.
(Judges 14:18)

By not telling his parents, Samson was able to control the situation, setting up his attack on the Philistines.

There is no quicker or more effective way to show leadership than to demonstrate self-discipline.  The poet John Milton wrote a biography of Oliver Cromwell in which he explained that the latter’s military skills and leadership were grounded in self-discipline. “He was a soldier well versed in self-knowledge and whatever enemy lay within—vain hopes, fears, desires—he had either previously destroyed within himself or had long since reduced to subjection.”

This is why self-discipline is regularly voted the most important measure of leadership. Speaking in a measured and thoughtful way is the first proof of self-discipline we encounter in those we meet.

Our audio CD, Perils of Profanity: You Are What You Speak, explores the impact of speech on both our economic and romantic lives. Scripture repeatedly stresses the importance of what comes out of our mouths and this CD will help you work on this area of self-control, yielding immeasurable benefit. Enjoy the download version for only $5.00 this week and step onto your own road to leadership.

Rabbi Lapin Download

Ever Wonder About the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

The synagogue I was privileged to plant and serve in California had a ball team that played in a local league. We called our synagogue ball team, “The Elders of Zion”. Since this is the name of one of history’s most notorious anti-Semitic forgeries, not everyone was amused but the team thrived and gradually people loosened up and chilled out. Meanwhile, I thought it was time to tear the covers off those “Elders” which I do in this podcast episode. Don’t miss it as I don’t think I want to leave it up on the Internet indefinitely. The episode is entitled Who’s Running Things: The Bilderbergers? The United Nations? Jews? Secret Socialists? Well, I explain the true answer here: https://soundcloud.com/rabbi-daniel-lapin-show

Behind Every Great Man…

Quick! Is this a complimentary statement or an insult? “Behind every great man stands a great woman.” I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking about this phrase. How exactly do I feel about it?

While I haven’t tried this experiment, I conjecture that if you asked college students what they think of those words, most would dismiss it as a relic of patriarchy. After all, it reeks of a time when women weren’t expected to be great themselves but only support staff. A variation of the saying is , “Behind every successful man there is a woman,” but this only emphasizes the potential problem even more. (For the purpose of this conversation, I am going to focus on wives rather than mothers, not because I underestimate maternal influence but because that’s a different discussion.)

Reading a mesmerizing biography by Sonia Purnell; Clementine: the Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill, started this train of thought. The book quickly reveals that Mrs. Churchill played a significantly more involved and complex role than that of supportive spouse. In World War I she organized and ran the establishment of canteens for soldiers, which to me sound similar to the American USO. In doing so, she supervised a huge staff and budget. In World War II she initiated a massive campaign to support the starving Russian people, acting not as a figurehead but as a hard-working and extraordinarily competent businesswoman.  As for supporting her husband’s pivotal leadership role in World War II, among other accomplishments she edited his speeches and, unlike Eleanor Roosevelt, was consulted on major decisions, including those involving classified military information.

However, other people could have occupied most of those roles. She uniquely supported, challenged, protected, coddled and fought with her husband through the vicissitudes of his career. It is entirely plausible that without Clementine, Churchill would have floundered and self-destructed, leaving him unable to save England and the world from Hitler. Yet, Ms. Purnell’s book is groundbreaking. While Winston Churchill is the subject of numerous biographies, his wife’s role, until now, occupied little space in the narrative.

Granted, Winston Churchill is a unique larger-than-life character. His eccentricities and flaws were matched by his massive strengths and far-reaching foresight. It isn’t surprising that he needed an incredibly talented and complex woman to provide ballast to his life. Furthermore, the epic battle  of good against evil in the 1930s and 1940s provided a dramatic, world-shaking backdrop to his life.

The Churchill’s marriage was, like the individual lives of the two spouses, fiery, tempestuous and strong. England benefited while their children did not. While I don’t view it as an ideal role model for marriage, and in fact Mrs. Churchill suffered physically and emotionally from the stress of living with such a difficult man, it is arguable that Winston Churchill’s greatness and the defeat of Nazism is a credit to his marriage as much as to his own persona.

Clementine Churchill was greatly overshadowed by Winston, exemplifying the sentence with which I started this Musing. Yet, I think she just as aptly represents the phrase in Genesis claiming Eve’s creation as an ‘ezer k’negdo,’ literally, ‘a helper as if she was opposite him (Adam)’. Not a mindless yes-woman but someone who helps to bring out the best in her husband by completely being on his side, yet skillfully exposing him (sometimes forcefully) to different perspectives, emotions and ideas.

Our society currently devalues marriage and its unique partnership paradigm. Could it be that our modern insistence that the individual is more important than the couple and that wives should tread their own independent paths make it less likely that our society will produce either great men or great women? Is there a happy medium?

* * *

I personally try to look at issues that occupy public debate such as marriage and gender roles through the Biblical lens of ancient Jewish wisdom. The study that goes into producing our weekly Thought Tools is a huge help, and often an eye-opener to me. You can get three years of Thought Tools (over 150 teachings!) at a temporary special discount price, which is something I highly recommend doing.

THOUGHT TOOLS

  • Say Little and Lead Much March 21, 2017 by Rabbi Daniel Lapin - Leaders enjoy many benefits.  People seen as leaders get promoted and opportunities come their way.  Parents whose children respect them as leaders have more functional families.   But how do you begin the process of getting others to see you as a leader? We have all seen leadership in action.  Perhaps one participant at a Read More

ASK THE RABBI

  • How much loyalty do I owe my boss? March 22, 2017 by Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin - Thank you for your valuable insight into how the world really works. It has proven true time and again in my life as you would expect.  I have been offered a position with a competing company in my industry that pays more and offers a benefit package. In addition my new partner is a harder Read More

SUSAN’S MUSINGS

  • Behind Every Great Man… March 16, 2017 by Susan Lapin - Quick! Is this a complimentary statement or an insult? “Behind every great man stands a great woman.” I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking about this phrase. How exactly do I feel about it? While I haven’t tried this experiment, I conjecture that if you asked college students what they think of those words, Read More

ON OUR MIND

  • Ever Wonder About the Protocols of the Elders of Zion? March 19, 2017 by Rabbi Daniel Lapin - The synagogue I was privileged to plant and serve in California had a ball team that played in a local league. We called our synagogue ball team, "The Elders of Zion". Since this is the name of one of history's most notorious anti-Semitic forgeries, not everyone was amused but the team thrived and gradually people Read More

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About Rabbi Daniel Lapin

Rabbi Daniel Lapin, known world-wide as America’s Rabbi, is a noted rabbinic scholar, best-selling author and host of the Rabbi Daniel Lapin Show on The Blaze Radio Network. He is one of America’s most eloquent speakers and his ability to extract life principles from the Bible and transmit them in an entertaining manner has brought countless numbers of Jews and Christians closer to their respective faiths. Newsweek magazine included him in its list of America’s fifty most influential rabbis.

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