Enoch Burton Gowin.

The executive and his control of men; online

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critic or a school which flourishes for a day and then is
not all its forms and phases have been woven into the
social heritage and there has been developed so widely
among men the feeling for beauty and the sense of the
fitness of things. These things have made for survival.


Personal ascendancy, it would follow, does not rest
solely upon doing things ; there must be method, fitness,
workmanship, in a word, art. The principle is simple,
its applications numerous. The Assyrian kings spoke
no command save from the throne. Alexander in his
victories had an eye to their dramatic effect, and as
unique as his conquests was his method of celebrating
them. Garibaldi, when he wished to meet his volunteers,
appointed for assembly place the Piazza of St. Peter's
and he came late. Saladin builded such a Great
Palace that of its size and splendor the Arabian histo-
rians speak with bated breath. Robert Bruce before
all his followers smote his English antagonist such a
blow on the helmet that the ax clove his head from
crown to chin. Louis Napoleon alternately played
upon the French love for national honor and the glory
of his family name. Andrew Jackson, to mention but
one more example, created dramatic conflicts, himself

164 ART

appearing as an invincible Hercules constantly meeting
terrible monsters dangerous to the American people,
and slaying them all with his mighty club. Such meas-
ures as these, modified to fit the situation, bear fruit;
the aesthetic nature is satisfied.

They have a stimulating effect as well. In ancient
Finland it was believed that canoes were better built
when the " boat-building " song was properly recited
by the craftsman, and no doubt this was true. The
dancer is most agile when the music is stirring, the
campaigner would have his brass band, Luther's oppo-
nents sang themselves into his ranks through use of
Protestant hymns, Moody had his Sankey, and work-
men the world over sing songs of exhortation. Art
stimulates, and, as may be observed again and again,
under its influence one does not so easily succumb to

It is in times of war, however, that art as a stimulus
attains its maximum. Here is demanded more than
prompt, vigorous action and the delay of fatigue ; fear
must be conquered and the passion of cruelty made over-
mastering. This effect savages induce by sham fights,
during which the timorous native stiffens his courage
for the real onset ; or by war songs the lust for slaughter
is provoked. " The savage blood of the Ahts," observed
a traveler, 1 " always boiled when the war songs were
recited, their fingers worked convulsively on the paddles,
and their eyes gleamed ferociously; altogether they
were two hundred murderous-looking villains." Art is
thus able to incite the savage to transient madness ; and
similarly through the deadly impact of phrases such as,
" Land for which our fathers died," " Give me liberty
or give me death," " Remember the Maine," " Scot-
land Forever," or by the strains of " Deutschland Uber

1 Sproat, quoted by Him, The Origins of Art, 267.


Alles," " Star-Spangled Banner " or the " Marseillaise/'
civilized men have been whetted to deeds of violence.

This stimulation, moreover, may do much to insure
collective action. When such activity is essential,
those phases of art are developed which make for inti-
mate cooperation. Witness the canoe dances and boat-
ing songs of insular people, the sowing songs and har-
vest dances of agriculturists, and especially the choral
songs so fully developed by warring people. Among the
peaceful Hottentots every dancer is a law unto himself,
but their more dominant neighbors, the Kaffirs, act in
strict unison. The North American Indians move
through their dances with soldier-like regularity, while
the Maori warriors in their most furious movements main-
tain uniformity and regularity, the slightest motions of
their ringers being simultaneous and even their eyes
all moving together. Rhythm, of course, has an aes-
thetic value, but viewed historically this function has
been far surpassed by utilitarian advantages; it facili-
tates common action.

Art in this way has a value for leaders long since recog-
nized. Among savage tribes, when any task requiring
combined effort is to be performed, a presul often
demonstrates in dance or pantomime the sequence of
movements required. 1 An Iroquois chief ambitious to
lead a war party would draw the braves into a war dance
and after rousing their passions in this way would set
out before their ardor had time to cool. A Maorian
with his followers executes a military pantomime which
stimulates the warriors to fight and regulates their move-
ments in battle, but more than this, as a European
traveler has been compelled to admit, it " strikes terror
into the heart of any man." In Australia even four or
five mischievous old women with their chants, which

1 Him, op. cit., 257.

i66 ART

are accompanied by tears and groans, can soon work
forty or fifty men into frenzy, fanatics ready for any deed
of blood.


This racial experience is something of which modern
executives may avail themselves. The Sherwin-Wil-
liams Co. coined a special title for their leading
salesmen, " Top Notchers " ; whenever a meeting is
called these top-notchers have a table or section apart
from the others, their president quite correctly pointing
out, " You may say this is childish, but then you know
we are but children of the grown-up sort/' Another com-
pany calls its leading men " Record-Breakers." When
a certain mark has been exceeded, the salesman gets a
medal in the shape of a watch fob ; if he breaks it a
second time, he receives a bar to hang below the medal,
and so on. Other alert managers have transformed
prosaic sales reports into spirited " motor races," " base-
ball games," " marathon runs," and like events, each
man through pictures, diagrams, and averages shown
in the house organs being inspired by his own, or prodded
by his nearest competitor's " hits," " home runs," or
" scores to date."

Officers of the police and fire departments each year
award medals, the mayor himself pinning the emblem
upon the breast of its possessor in full view of " a dis-
tinguished assemblage." Railroad executives bestow
bands of gold braid which conductors wear upon the
sleeve, each band signifying so many years of worthy
service. 1 Y. M. C. A. " boosters " mark the progress

1 The Erie Railroad has worked out a unique plan for similarly honor-
ing its engineers. Its elements are these : First, the Order of the Red
Spot, according to which any engineer distinguished for fine work has
the number plate of his engine painted bright red. Several privileges,
such as preferred runs, preferred attention at the division point, accrue


of their campaign contributions by a giant thermometer
or a clock dial over which a huge hand moves from day
to day, underneath each being a slogan " See it rise ! "
or " Make it strike 12 ! " Carnegie, in his pitting plant
against plant, provided for that furnace which held the
record for lowest production cost an enormous broom.
For the sake of having this broom proudly displayed
over their furnace, ironworkers blistered their hands
and managers thought far into the night. Vanity of
vanities, all is vanity, is no phrase for the executive. He
accepts human nature as it is, and in no idle moment
has devised songs and games and banners and emblems.

In conveying information from one mind to another,
art possesses a unique power. An artist or playwright
with a few bold strokes, a vague hint here and there,
produces a vivid picture. Yet this picture in reality
is not his but rather the product of the imagination
which he has stimulated and which, left to itself, is
able to evolve briefest outlines into completeness. Now
this same imaginative tendency in our nature, this possi-
bility of vast increase through its functioning, serves
the painter or playwright no less well than the executive.
He, too, is an artist, albeit this fact he would be last to

In a dramatic way his message is impressed upon sub-
ordinates and followers. When accused of drunken -

to members of the Red Spot order. Second, a Roll of Honor is printed
each month, in which appears a list of the most unusual and distinctive
services rendered to the company by its men. Third, as a crowning
tribute to its engineers, it was decided to allow to each man of long
service and exceptional loyalty the privilege of having his own name,
instead of the usual number, painted on the cab of his locomotive. The
pride this inspires baffles description. Of the eighteen engineers thus
far honored in this way, not one has ever varied once from the pinnacle
of perfection since he was given his name on his cab.

To this system is due in a measure the remarkable result accomplished
by the Erie, the carrying of 225,000,000 people in the last eight years
with only one fatality.

168 ART

ness, he admits, " I drink about as much as ,"

naming, "by permission," an eminent divine; and he
follows this with a crushing vindication in the courts.
It being rumored of another that his chief lieutenant
is disaffected, he makes no labored reply ; they appear
at the opera arm in arm. Or he rebukes followers, as
Mohammed once stilled the clamor for spoils by sud-
denly plucking a hair from the back of a camel and in
raised voice saying, " By Allah ! I have never taken
from the common spoil the value of that camel's hair
more than my fifth ; and that fifth has always been ex-
pended for your good." Or again he lampoons his
opponent in doggerel, mean, undignified, no doubt,
but strong because infectious. In a Broadway parade
thousands once lustily sang :

"Elaine, Elaine, James G. Elaine,
Continental liar from the state of Maine!"

Here, too, is use for the image-stirring phrase, the " Lib-
erty, Equality, and Fraternity," " Fifty-four forty or
Fight," " Onward, Christian Soldiers," " Home Rule for
Ireland," into which men at one time or another have
read their intensest convictions. Such phrases, in fact
all such means, are symbols; yet as such they suffice,
for the imagination works through them with a mini-
mum of trouble and a maximum of output.

The leader in reality furnishes merely an arc; the
followers build up the whole circle of his power. " It
has frequently been noticed," says Cooley, 1 " that
personal ascendancy is not necessarily dependent upon
any palpable deed in which power is manifested, but that
there is often a conviction of power and an expectation
of success that go before the deed and control the minds

1 Human Nature and Social Order, 295-296 passim.


of men without apparent reason. There is something
fascinating about this immediate and seemingly cause-
less personal efficacy, [yet] it appears to be simply a
matter of impulsive personal judgment, an impression
of power and a sense of yielding due to interpretation
of the visible or audible symbols of personality. An-
other may impress us with his power, and so exercise
authority over us, either by grossly performing the act,
or by exhibiting traits of personality which convince
our imaginations that he can and will do the act if he
wishes to." And this latter, perhaps, is by far the more
influential. It is this idea or image of him mirrored
in the group consciousness and not what he himself
necessarily is, which motivates followers, a fact empha-
sized by the careers of Mohammed and Dowie and Napo-
leon and, though to a less extent perhaps, unlimited
numbers of leaders.

Now through increasing and retaining this divergence
between person and image, art performs another service ;
it permits high lights and shadings. This " spot light
and shadow " effect is of wide applicability. The skilled
lawyer plays the spot light upon every element favorable
to his case, trying to look most cheerful when hit hardest.
The new improvements, the perfected organization, the
broken records, executives push into the foreground.
The chief place at the banquet, the carefully timed
entrance to the platform, the open carriage preceded in
the procession by gorgeous ranks, 1 what are these but

1 Even savage chiefs are adept in the use of such means to retain
ascendancy, as the following description written by two missionaries
in Africa will illustrate : "The great monarch himself approached. He
was heralded by some eighty individuals, each wearing a cap of monkey's
skin adorned by a golden plate, and each holding his seat in his hand.
Then came the dwarfs and buffoons in red flannel shirts, with the offi-
cials of the harem ; there were also sixty boys, every one of whom wore
a charm sewn up in leopard's skin, with written scraps from the Koran,
which were highly prized; this train was followed by five tastefully

170 ART

spot light upon leader and shadows for followers? Posi-
tive and negative self-feeling are thus induced.

Art in this way serves as a means of control. It tames
the ego in flippant offender, raw recruit, awkward appren-
tice, vainglorious lieutenant, and binds him to the
organized will. As Mr. Spencer points out, " the earliest
kind of government, the most general kind of govern-
ment, and the government which is ever spontaneously
recommencing, is the government of ceremonial obser-
vance. [It] has ever had, and continues to have, the
largest share in regulating men's lives." 1

Hence the inaugural oath, the military salute, the
state carriage, the throne, crown and scepter, the titles
of nobility, the intricacies of court etiquette, the splen-
dor of a Durbar. Similarly in law we retain the robe
and wig, the grave demeanor, the prescribed penalties,
the archaic language the "Guilty or not guilty?"
the " may God have mercy on your soul ! " Religion
likewise is a museum of antiquity, its priestly robes, holy
water, Latin service, crucifix, and candlesticks all point-
ing to an age long past.

Such obedience-getting means usually command slight

carved royal chairs, hung round with gold and silver bells, but all black,
being stained with the blood of human sacrifices.

"Next, under an enormous silk sunshade, appeared the actual throne
chair, encased with gold, and with long golden pipes carried behind it,
as well as various wonderful vessels and articles of vertu. A peculiar
music was heard rising above the sound of the horns and the beating of
the drums. . . .

"Still larger fans and umbrellas now approached, preceded by a corps
of a hundred executioners dancing ; all wore leopard-skin caps, and had
two knives slung from their necks. The dismal death drum, whose three
beats were heard from time to time, closed the procession.

"Now the music became wilder and louder, the ivory horns sounded
shriller, the screaming and howling surpassed all description. Led by
an attendant under a magnificent sunshade of black velvet, edged with
gold and kept in constant motion, the royal potentate appeared." Ellis,
Tshi-S peaking Peoples of the Gold Coast, 258-259.

1 Principles of Sociology, II, 3.


respect in the upward climbing, the reforming tempera-
ment, the men without sense of the past ; yet once them-
selves in authority these radicals often reinstate the forms
they heretofore sought to destroy. The explanation is
simple ; efficacy adheres in them. " The reason why
institutions of control are so full of survivals," says Ross,
" is that such institutions work the better the older
they grow, which is not true of a construction in syntax,
a funeral service, a pattern of tool or garment. De-
vices in the field of control, however crude at first, im-
prove with age like wine. A duty enjoined in the old
sacred books on the precept of an ancient sage binds us
more than would the same if it came to us unhallowed by
time. Crown and royal blood win for the Emperor
Dom Pedro an obedience that his republican successors
in Brazil can command only by military force." l


Art in the hands of a skilled stage manager is an effec-
tive producer of impressions. It serves as a canopy under
which the leader's real self may find cover, a scenery
upon which followers may gaze. But through its
possibility of making the outer do service for the inner,
an element of decadence is introduced, the dry rot to
be found underneath the follies of fashion, the eulogies
pronounced over the bier of public swindler, the pur-
chased sympathy of confessor, even the suavity of eti-

Such degeneracy is more than a moral question, how-
ever; it seriously hinders effectiveness. Art readily
passes over into the formalism which, substituting the
outer for the inner, mistakes this outer as the end in
itself and after a time if left unassailed glorifies the

l Soc. Psy.y 273. Cf. his Social Control, 111-114, 190-194.

172 ART

cocoon in which the vital impulse is encased. Its
possibilities are therefore as completely nullified as were
the Grand Monarch's during the Ancient Regime.
" The king," says Taine, 1 " suffers the same torture and
the same inaction as he imposes. He also is playing a
part ; all his steps and all his gestures have been deter-
mined beforehand; he has been obliged to arrange his
physiognomy and his voice, never to depart from an
affable and dignified air, to award judiciously his glances
and his nods, to keep silent or to speak only of the chase,
and to suppress his own thoughts, if he has any. One
cannot indulge in revery, meditate or be absent-minded
when one is before the footlights ; the part must have
due attention. . . .

" Strictly speaking it is the life of an actor who is on
the stage the entire day. To support this load, and work
besides, required the temperament of Louis XIV, the
vigor of his body, the extraordinary firmness of his
nerves, the strength of his digestion, and the regularity
of his habits ; his successors who came after him grow
weary or stagger under the same load. But they cannot
throw it off; an incessant, daily performance is insep-
arable from their position and it is imposed on them
like a heavy, gilded, ceremonial coat. . . . Verily,
the king resembles an oak stifled by the innumerable
creepers which, from top to bottom, cling to its trunk."
Art the servant had become formalism the despotic
master. And to present executives as with Louis this
possibility is never absent.


I. Discuss : "It has been the misfortune of the present admin-
istration that its mistakes have been more spectacular than its

1 The Ancient Regime, 104-109 passim.


2. Why is it that a joke is often worth two arguments?

3. Explain how a formalized sympathy, even hypocrisy,
tends to develop in ministers. (Atlantic Monthly, April, 1913,


4. Why do Americans, especially business men, underrate the
power of emblems, ceremonies, music, etc.?

5. Over which has art more power, Latin or Teuton? Of what
significance to plant managers ?

6. How can a manager show graphically the accomplishment
of the various members of his staff?


Ross, Social Control, Chs. XIX-XX.


"The only real measure of the social importance of an idea is
the influence it exerts on men's minds. The degree of truth or
error it contains is only of interest from a philosophic point of

IN the management of men there are those whose sole
test of a measure is, " Does it work? " And to make
more certain that it does, they concern themselves with
the line between fact and fable, which, at best, is faint.
Under deft manipulation the senses are obsessed by the
shifting mirage and the judgment is tricked of its right-
ful conclusion. Possibly not for always, since truth, with
men all scientists in some distant age, may possibly
become full orbed, but meanwhile, at least, the will-
o'-the-wisp, magic, and the hidden wire. The intriguer
has his day.

Deception, in fact, predated civilization. It is found
even among the lower animals, as persons familiar with
horses or dogs have probably discovered. Herr Groos
tells the amusing story of a pointer who shammed sleep
after he had stealthily licked all the clabber out of a
bowl ; also of a monkey caught when about to rob a hen's
nest, who thereupon tried to look very artless. 1 Dogs
and monkeys, in turn, are far surpassed in guile by the
" simple " savage. The nimble intellect early vied with
the strong arm as a means of control. The old, the ab-
normal, the maimed and the blind, by magic incanta-

l Play of Man, 297-299.


tions, spirit visitations, swoons and trances, sought to
justify their right to be.

It remained for later ages, however, to render illusion
a fine art. The splendid art of diplomacy refines some-
what the crude art of lying. The ablest diplomat whom
Great Britain ever sent us is termed " quiet, altogether
British and unfathomable." Much history has been
made by men such as he. George III by a certain persis-
tent astuteness, by the dexterous utilizing of political
rivalries, by cajoling some men and betraying others,
by a resolute adroitness in turning every opening to his
own advantage, built up his own power while steadily
outwitting his opponents. " Never," declared Pitt after
one encounter, " never has he so baffled me." l

His counterpart has flitted across the scenes at Vienna,
at Berlin, at Madrid, in the councils at St. Peterburg and
the solemn conclaves of Rome ; Europe has known Bis-
marck and Metternich, the De Medici, and Richelieu.
In our own country a " little magician " once maneu-
vered himself across the slippery arena of Washington
politics up to the first place, and others, though perhaps
less adept, still thus advance themselves part way. Of
course the demand now is, let there be light. But
" rings " and cliques with their " bosses " and " dough
bags " still persist, and as the plowshare of publicity
scratches the surface the wires are deeper laid.

Be not too absorbed, however, over the politicians.
In what organization, be it business, church, or reformers'
club, has plain dealing ever approached the one hundred
per cent mark ? Illusion is a universal coloration process,
and of its ramifications there is no end. In surveying
this activity one may discern certain typical methods
through which it operates ; to a consideration of the more
important of these we now turn.

1 Rosebery, Life of William Pitt, 13.



/. The Shifting of Attention. Not what is, but that
to which the mind attends this constitutes reality
from the view of motivation. And this fact shrewd
manipulators have recognized. They keep the atten-
tion fastened upon that which it is their interest to have

A splendid exterior may so draw the eye that the in-
terior is freed from scrutiny. 1 Log cabin and hard
cider pleased the backwoodsmen. What matter if
"Old Tip" knew not the tariff? The "American
System " had nothing peculiarly American about it, but
the name was adroitly chosen and served its purpose.
The " old hero " as a St. George killing the dragon or
an invincible champion of the sacred destinies of the
American people, driving out " Old Nick's money "
and " Clay's rags," in his war against the " monster
monopoly " exercised a wonderful charm over the
popular imagination. To the gravest arguments and
remonstrances, the answer was, literally, " Hurrah for
Jackson ! "

A great cause, especially a divine cause, has a prestige
all its own. But every great cause is besieged by self-
seeking " supporters," foul hands making capital of
fair duties. And convenient it is for such as these to
confuse the distinction one ought to say, contrast
- between cause and self. Personal enemies readily be-
come " plotters against our house," " traducers of our

1 "An immigrant in Pennsylvania set himself up in the banking busi-
ness, but it was some time before he got the money of his countrymen for
safe keeping. He secured their confidence by buying a large safe, which
he placed in his store, near the front window, so that the passers-by
could see it. The money soon began to pour in, not because he was an
honest man, but because he had a big safe in which to keep it." Roberts,
New Immigration, 181.


fair city," or " blasphemers of our God." Individual
orders are merely the rules of the house, the demands of
patriotism, the will of the people, perhaps, the solemn
mandates of Jehovah plainly expressed in the Scriptures.

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Online LibraryEnoch Burton GowinThe executive and his control of men; → online text (page 13 of 26)