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Latin Maxims–Applied to the Business Environment

In this series of posts, we will examine how Latin maxims can provide today’s leaders with new insights.  A maxim is defined by the Free Dictionary as “a succinct formulation of a fundamental principle, general truth, or rule of conduct.”

The first of the Latin Maxims

Bis dat qui cito dat:  Literally translated it means “he gives twice, who gives promptly.”  What is suggested here is the appreciation that is felt not just by receiving a gift, but by the timing of it. A gift given quickly and without hesitation is, in itself, a gift. A gift given promptly shows respect and admiration for the recipient, in other words. When you provide a gift to your coworkers–be it praise or another form of recognition–do you give it promptly? How might you give it sooner?

The second of the Latin Maxims

Quod licet Jovi non licet bovi:  Literally translated this means “what is permitted of Jupiter is not permitted of oxen.” Jupiter was the chief god of the Romans. Oxen are work animals–laborers. Jupiter transformed himself into a bull (bovine) to win over his love interest, Europa. Oxen, on the other hand, could certainly not transform themselves into Jupiter. Can you say double standard? How might you, as a leader, be exercising a double standard? And what do you imagine the impact is on employees’ morale?

The third of the Latin Maxims

Homines, dum docent, discunt:  Literally translated it means “while teaching, people learn.” The medical profession has a saying:  see one, do one, teach one. How do you help your team learn how to lead? Do you show them a great example, allow them to use that example with their team, and encourage them to then teach it to others?

We can surely learn many things just by looking at the past. These Latin maxims bring forward a few ideas that, as leaders, you should consider in your personal and professional life. Give of yourself to others in a prompt manner, be cautious of the dreaded double standard, and learn by teaching.


About the Author

Calvin has nearly three decades of executive and leadership experience. He is a former Air Force officer where he directed the Air Force Oil Analysis Program, the B-1 Bomber flight simulator modification program, and the design and integration of the Advanced Cruise Missile Variant. His executive leadership includes Director of the Rochester Merrill Lynch office and Vice President of Investment Services at Think Mutual Bank. Calvin Guyer Full Bio

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