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Embracing Applied Axiology in Business: Insights from Dr. Randy Ross

In this insight article, we draw upon a conversation from Episode #1169 of the Arete Coach Podcast, featuring Dr. Randy Ross. Renowned for his transformative work in corporate culture and executive coaching, Dr. Ross discusses the profound concept of Applied Axiology, as highlighted in his book "Remarkable." This philosophy places a strong emphasis on the significance of values within business practices and leadership. Through the exploration of creativity, positivity, sustainability, and responsibility, Dr. Ross provides a comprehensive framework for leaders aiming to enact substantial change. Continue reading for insights on integrating these maxims into coaching strategies to empower leaders and foster meaningful advancements within their organizations and the wider community.

Who is Dr. Randy Ross?

Dr. Randy Ross, with his distinguished career as the CEO of Remarkable and a former Chief People Officer, has left a profound impact on the corporate world. Working alongside notable brands such as GE Appliances, Cox Communications, Compass Group, Chick-fil-A, Keller Williams, and the Intercontinental Hotel Group, Ross has enabled individuals to rediscover passion and purpose in their work. His efforts have significantly improved teamwork and increased influence and impact across various sectors (Dr. Randy Ross, 2016).

Ross's philosophy centers on the simple truth that enjoying one's work enhances performance. When individuals appreciate their colleagues, collaboration flourishes. And when they recognize the positive impact of their efforts, their work becomes more meaningful and fulfilling. Through his engaging presentations and workshops, Ross assists people in discovering what they genuinely enjoy, fostering healthier relationships, and embracing a passion that extends beyond their own interests (Dr. Randy Ross, 2016).

In "Remarkable," one of Dr. Randy Ross' books published in 2014, the spotlight shines on Applied Axiology. This philosophy, introduced by Dr. Robert S. Hartman—a philosopher, professor, and business professional—lays the foundation for the science of values, or "axiology." Hartman's pioneering work offers a framework for comprehending human character, enriching our understanding of various business practices (Robert S. Hartman Institute, (n.d.)). These include management, customer relations, and the intricacies of employment processes such as hiring, training, coaching, promotion, reassignment, and retention of employees.

Defining Axiology

At its core, Axiology is the study of value and how it applies to human behavior and decision-making in business. This field, pioneered by Dr. Robert Hartman, seeks to define and measure what constitutes 'good,' thereby enabling individuals and organizations to fulfill their potential in meaningful ways. Unlike the static nature of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, Axiology is dynamic, emphasizing the ongoing pursuit of making a positive impact in the world.

Axiology Versus Maslow's Hierarchy

Dr. Ross draws an intriguing comparison between Axiology and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. While Maslow initially proposed a five-tier model of human needs, it was later expanded to include self-transcendence, underscoring the importance of contributing to the welfare of others. Axiology takes this a step further by insisting that life's purpose is not fully realized until one has made a significant, positive mark on the universe. It's not merely about reaching one's full potential but about leveraging that potential for the greater good.

The 4 Maxims of Applied Axiology

Dr. Ross introduces four maxims that encapsulate the essence of Applied Axiology in business and leadership:

  1. Maxim of Creativity: This principle challenges individuals and organizations to be value creators rather than value extractors. It's about contributing more than you take, embodying a mindset where the focus shifts from monetary gain to the creation of value.

  2. Maxim of Positivity: Positivity impacts the individual and the collective, driving momentum and fostering an environment where hope and happiness can flourish. This maxim emphasizes the power of a positive outlook to transform challenges into opportunities for growth.

  3. Maxim of Sustainability: Combining passion with strengths to solve problems is at the heart of sustainable value creation. This maxim encourages a purpose-driven approach to work, where the focus is on leveraging one's abilities to address problems.

  4. Maxim of Responsibility: Recognizing and taking control of what one can influence, this maxim is about accountability and the proactive pursuit of positive change, both personally and professionally. 

Applying the 4 Maxims of Applied Axiology to Executive Coaching

Integrating the 4 Maxims of Applied Axiology into executive coaching not only deepens the coaching conversation but also empowers coachees to explore their values, behaviors, and impact. These maxims serve as a compass, guiding leaders toward more meaningful, responsible, and creative engagement in their professional and personal lives. By asking thought-provoking questions aligned with these maxims, coaches can facilitate transformative experiences that encourage coachees to contribute positively to their organizations and society at large. Let's explore how each maxim can be applied to coaching conversations, highlighting key questions that can lead to significant outcomes for coachees.

Maxim of Creativity: Value Creation over Extraction

In creativity, the focus is on contribution. Coaches should encourage coachees to reflect on their ability to add value within their roles and the wider organization. A pivotal question to ask is: 

"Do you bring more value to the table than you take?" - Dr. Ross

This question prompts coachees to consider their input versus output ratio, encouraging them to think about how they can innovate, solve problems, and contribute more effectively to their teams and projects.

Maxim of Positivity: Building a Positive Legacy

Positivity is contagious, and its effects can be far-reaching within an organization. Coaches can use this maxim to help coachees understand the impact of their attitude and behavior on others. A key question in this area is:

"Is your wake positive or negative?" - Dr. Ross

This question helps coachees to assess the influence they have on their environment and the people around them, inspiring them to adopt a more positive and constructive approach to leadership.

Maxim of Sustainability: Solving Meaningful Problems

Sustainability in this context refers to the pursuit of actions that are not only beneficial in the short term but also contribute to long-term goals and solutions. Coaches should guide coachees to identify and articulate the core issues they are addressing through their work. An essential question to ponder is:

"What is the problem you’re solving?" - Dr. Ross

By focusing on the problem-solving aspect of their role, coachees can gain clarity on their purpose and direction, ensuring that their efforts are aligned with meaningful objectives.

Maxim of Responsibility: Ownership and Full Engagement

Taking responsibility means recognizing one's power and capacity to effect change. Coaches can challenge coachees to take full ownership of their actions and decisions, asking:

"What do I own? How can I step into this with my full being?" - Dr. Ross

This inquiry encourages coachees to reflect on their areas of control and how they can engage more fully with their responsibilities, leading to greater accountability and personal growth.

The Main Takeaway

Dr. Randy Ross's discourse on Applied Axiology presents a compelling vision for business leaders and executive coaches alike. The message is clear: the purpose of business, and leadership within it, transcends the mere pursuit of profit. It's about making a tangible difference, fostering a culture of value creation, positivity, sustainability, and responsibility. In embracing these principles, leaders can cultivate environments where both individuals and organizations can thrive, contributing to a world marked by hope and meaningful progress.


Dr. Randy Ross - Remarkable! | LinkedIn. (2016).

Robert S. Hartman Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2024, from

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