“. . . we watched and witnessed some of our comrades behave like swine while others behaved like saints. Man has both potentialities within himself; which one is actualized depends on decisions but not on conditions.” – Victor Frankl
When royalty reigned supreme nobles were considered gentrified aristocrats, marked not just by heredity but by their grace, generosity, integrity, compassion, and by their wisdom. The term “noble” encapsulates these qualities, along with a presence that inspires people to become a better version of themselves – or in the words of Morgan et al. (2005), their “best reflected self.” These are the transformational leaders (e.g., Herb Kelleher, former CEO of Southwest Airlines) who engender referent power, and whose followers are uplifted by their velvet demeanor. What type behaviors contribute to this distinction of class, or “elegance?”
#1 Keeping your nose where it belongs. Those who bestow grace pick their battles, eschew pettiness, and choose to overlook others’ poor choices. They unfailingly take the high road at every turn. Larger than life resistance leaders like Nelson Mandela, who in the name of progress pardoned those who imprisoned him, come to mind. Individuals who wax divine refuse to keep score.
#2 Behaving in a transparent fashion. Blunder files, clandestine data collection, and the commiseration of constituents in the presence of excluded parties occurs in places where ostracism (and favoritism) is encouraged. No one enjoys surreptitious monitoring, especially by parties employed behind the scenes expressly for this purpose. Betrayal is a sword plunged deep by contemptuous persons.
#3 Forgiving. “To err is human, to forgive divine.” Many of us don’t do the hard work of flinging the chip from our shoulder to see the person that is us; for in the grand scheme of things, everyone is guilty of tarnishing someone else’s shine. Both cursing and blessing emanate from the same orifice. For nobility, turning the other cheek is a habitual choice.
#4 Setting (and maintaining) a positive tone. The bystander effect occurs because it takes effort to overcome the inertia of doing nothing. Going against the grain of an agenda established by dominant parties is difficult work. Nobles willingly stick their necks out to spare colleagues, clear the air, keep the peace, and maintain equilibrium when they see the brutish attempting to tip the scales. They are the quintessential professionals, the salt of the corporate earth who constantly strive and succeed in leaving a place better. They choose to remain above the fray by easily forgetting offenses, and by cultivating key allies. Tit for tat does not exist in their vocabulary; rather, that which serves the common good despite its impact on them personally rules the day. Their words are strung pearls in a string of impeccable speech.
#5 Promoting those besides themselves. Nobility is truly happy for others (without having to toot their own horn), realizing that everyone is a source of inspiration and instruction at some point. They are generous givers, behaving as mentors when they have nothing to gain and servants of coworkers who repay them with smiles. Exploitation is a tool they choose not to employ.
The gentry are jewels that shine brightly in a sea of backstabbing, brown nosing, and scheming one’s way to get ahead. They serve as beacons who light the way for their peers.