Thursday, January 16, 2014

Reflections on Leadership & Ethics

By Pascal Dennis

LPI Leadership & Ethics Series

Last time I gave y'all a home work assignment around the Cardinal Virtues -- Prudence, Temperance, Courage and Justice.

Today I'd like to zoom out..

How are Leadership & Ethics related? Why do they matter?

Some initial thoughts.

Can you have the former without the latter? Will people willingly follow swine for the long term?

Long-time readers will know where I stand.

The leader's job is to get business results -- by building capability & reinforcing values. (Tip of the hat to Peter Drucker.)

Thus, Ethics enables Leadership. Leaders represent what's best in us. We take part in their journey because we believe in what they stand for.

A bastard can be successful, rich, famous - but he's unlikely to be a leader, at least not for long.

(How bitter our disappointment, when a leader we admire turns out to be a fraud...)


What is Ethics? In my view, it's the study of right & wrong.

How do we know one from the other? By the application of Ethical standards.

The Cardinal Virtues are perhaps the best known example.

Temperance, Prudence, Courage, Justice -- all major religions & systems of philosophy contain them.

Lean practitioners will know that a standard is an image of "What Should be Happening" (WSBH).

Thereby, standards make problems visible. "Hey, we're not doing what we're supposed to be doing!"

Of course, we mere mortals are tricky, lazy, dishonest, and rarely live up to the Cardinal Virtues.

In business, following standards minimizes hassle & helps us achieve our goals. In life, doing so also helps reduce human suffering.

But by making the problem visible, they've done their job. At the very least, they blunt our excesses.

Leaders at all levels who lock them in are well on their way.

Next time, what to make of Martin Scorcese's latest -- The Wolf of Wall Street?

Best,

Pascal

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