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Doing what’s proper, not just permissible: A call for moral leadership

Doing what’s proper, not just permissible: A call for moral leadership | Moral Leadership | Scoop.it
Disaffection with the state of leadership has probably never been greater. Even those who are still listening treat what they are being told with a grain of salt.
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Carson Scott interviews Anthony Howard on Moral Leadership

Anthony Howard wrote "It's time for Moral Leadership" which looked at the divorce between markets and morals, and the need for virtue based leadership. In th...
Anthony Howard's insight:

The size and complexity of the challenges facing humanity, the transitions we are undergoing and the lack of traditional guides means that leaders require considerable intellectual, emotional, and interpersonal capability. The greater need, however, is for leaders with outstanding moral competence.

Perhaps the biggest leadership risk governments, organisations, and societies face today is moral risk. Since leadership is exercised at every level in an organisation, Boards and CEOs need to have a clear strategy and commitment to exercising moral leadership and helping their people meet not only their legal obligations, but also their moral obligations.

In my white paper on Moral Leadership (referred to in the interview) I propose a virtue based approach to decision making, helping us do what is proper, not just what is permissible.

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Obama, failing on moral leadership?

Obama, failing on moral leadership? | Moral Leadership | Scoop.it
Frida Ghitis asks when will Obama resolve issues such as Gitmo and Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons?
Anthony Howard's insight:

Frida asks a wonderful question: "Who in the world today has the moral standing and the practical ability to take meaningful action? It would be nice if the conscience of humanity had a way to express itself and make a difference."

As Margaret Mead and others have observed "a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world."

But where do we find those citizens? Who--individually or collectively--can speak the conscience of humanity?

As the article observes, the challenge is both one of moral standing, which is a question of personal character, and practical ability, which is the means and opportunity to make a difference.  Obama (and other world leaders) can make a difference, but let no one presume this is easy--but then again the stuff that really matters is rarely easy.  If it was, others would have done it.

In the absence of leadership from global leaders we each need to build our moral fortitude.

We can do this in some straightforward ways.

Start by clarifying our principles. What do we stand for? What moral principle runs through our veins?

Commit ourselves to the pursuit of truth beauty and goodness.  Don't give in to the undemanding answer, the acceptance of mediocrity.

Foster a life of virtue.  Practice habits of wisdom, courage, justice and self-restraint.

Learn how to make moral decisions amidst the complexity of difficult choices.

Be a role model for those around us.

And hopefully the light in each of our lives will generate heat which dispels the cold moral vacuum. 


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Ethics as Usual

Ethics as Usual | Moral Leadership | Scoop.it
Ethics matter! Lack of ethical clarity is not only confusing, it also erodes trust, destroys moral leadership, and weakens the fabric of our society.
Anthony Howard's insight:

Frank reminds us that as children we were taught that the way we acted had consequences.  But as adults we are aware of the inconsistnet way standards are applied.  The old 'one rule for me, another rule for you.'

In this article he highlights the behaviours that contribute to moral leadership, starting with the observation that you are a role model to someone.  Our actions are always on display.

And as he points out, its when no one is looking that character matters most.

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Why Isn’t ‘Servant Leadership’ More Prevalent? — HBS Working Knowledge

Why Isn’t ‘Servant Leadership’ More Prevalent? — HBS Working Knowledge | Moral Leadership | Scoop.it
With servant leadership, a leader's primary role is to serve employees. Everyone from Lao-Tzu to Max De Pree thinks this a wonderful model. Why then, asks Professor Jim Heskett , is this style so rare among CEOs?
Anthony Howard's insight:

Great question Jim.

This article highlights the responsibility of leaders to create en environment in which people can flourish. If staff can grow and develop at work they cannot fail to be more engaged and more productive (in every sense of the word, not just to the bottom line).

Is the scarcity of servant leaders due to the paucity of role models? Or perhaps because of short term self interested thinking? Is it perhaps seen as a sign of weakness.

I don't think we need to dwell on why it is lacking, but rather find ways to foster servant leadership. Putting myself in the other's shoes is a good start. Plus remembering that what my business card says in my title is only passing, and not who I really am. Let's look to the humanity of our colleagues, not to their economic output.

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Peter (PJ) Fulcher-Meredith's curator insight, May 9, 2013 10:29 PM

Thanks to Anthony Howard for finding this one.  Over the years I have had the fortune to have a number of 'servant leaders' as clients. One common challnege they all faced, no matter how successful they were was the ire of other leaders who weren't prepared to acknowledge the value of 'servant leadership' in a number of cases they even said to me, they thought so and so was a 'bit weak' or a 'push over'.  Being a servant leaders requires you to be present and attentive to all that is happening or about to happen around you.  You don't have to be 'soft' to care, you just have to be prepared to put yourself in the other person's shoes from time to time and attempt to see a situation from the other point of view before you perhaps disagree. Otherwise it is 'status leadership' which can lead to tyranny. You have to work at 'servant leadership' every moment of every day but the rewards keep on giving.  It is worth it.  Great article.

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15 Ways to Encourage Moral Growth in Leadership

15 Ways to Encourage Moral Growth in Leadership | Moral Leadership | Scoop.it
By Linda Fisher Thornton

Moral Growth Is a Lifelong Pursuit

Moral education needs to start early, and it also needs to continue throughout our professional careers.

Unlocking Moral Awarene...
Anthony Howard's insight:

Although the list is a bit long (15 just adds to the complexity; article would be more effective with a tighter list) Linda makes some good points. Worth reading and reflecting on

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Glasenberg: We Don’t Do Work-Life Balance

Glasenberg: We Don’t Do Work-Life Balance | Moral Leadership | Scoop.it
In an era of weekend teambuilding, 35-hour work weeks and office ping-pong tables, at least one public company touts a tough, old-school 24/7 work ethic as a reason to buy its shares.
Anthony Howard's insight:

Drucker said culture eats strategy. And a ruthless profit focused culture will sink the strategy.  It will be sad to see how this plays out at Glencore XStrata. It is impossible to build a sustainable business on the basis of ruthless focus on profit and personal reward. This encourages short term thinking, and cutting corners to inflate results and hence bonuses.

The skills and talents that make good traders don't necessarily make good miners. The risk of failure appears quite large.  If the Board supports these comments then they stand condemned. They will rue the day these comments were made. One can only hope that better sense prevails.

We need human centred decision making, not profit centred. Not that I am denying the need to make a profit, just denying the need to make a profit at the expense of people.

The people who work for the firm are not units of economic production.  They are men and women with hopes and dreams and aspirations - and yes, with families and lives outside work.

Work is for the person, so they can grow and flourish, rather than the person being for work so the firm can profit and prosper.

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Why good business finds it so easy to do bad things

Why good business finds it so easy to do bad things | Moral Leadership | Scoop.it
Most business people would consider themselves to be ethical, but many act in ways that a wider audience would deem to be anything but
Anthony Howard's insight:

This article highlights the tension between doing what is permissible (the legal perspective) and what is proper (the moral perspective).  Both are 'right', but as the author points out we want our leaders not just to expect kudos for following the law, but to actually be driven by a higher standard--what is morally acceptable.

It also highlights what happens when business leaders continue to believe the purpose of a business is to generate maximum profit for shareholders.  Operating from this paradigm they can put their hand on their heart and proclaim they are doing the right thing while depriving others of what is their right, ie a distortion of justice.

Leaders today need an exceptional level of courage and wisdom in order to be moral leaders, not just business leaders

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Commonwealth Secretariat - Sustainable reconciliation needs moral leadership, financing and balance

Commonwealth Secretariat - Sustainable reconciliation needs moral leadership, financing and balance | Moral Leadership | Scoop.it
Moral leadership, financial support and the right balance between different mechanisms for reconciliation are critical for lasting peace, a Commonwealth roundtable concluded on Friday (3 May).
Anthony Howard's insight:

"Moral leadership, financial support, and the right balance between different mechanisms for reconciliation are critical for lasting peace ..."

I wonder what they mean by 'moral leadership'? Do they mean having the courage to speak out about the moral issues confronting the Commonwealth?  Do they mean leaders living lives of moral courage and moral example? It's a wonderful phrase "moral leadership" and one to which many people aspire and/or seek.  But what is it?

We exhibit moral leadership when we live by, and follow, a well calibrated moral compass, informed by a commitment to truth beauty and goodness, and a life of virtue.  This does not remove or negate the moral dilemmas, but gives us a framework for navigating them.

Moral leadership arises from our character, not from the issues we confront.

At the same time, moral leadership implies a moral destination.  And it is the clarity and quality of that destination, and the focus with which it is sought, that further defines moral leadership.

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Andrew Seinor's comment, May 21, 2013 10:48 PM
As morality can mean different things to each person the morals of a leader need to be unambiguous. Making your morals clear is a huge obligation for every leader.
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The Power of Living in Truth by Jeffrey D. Sachs - Project Syndicate

The Power of Living in Truth by Jeffrey D. Sachs - Project Syndicate | Moral Leadership | Scoop.it
The world’s greatest shortage is not of oil, clean water, or food, but of moral leadership. So let us pause to express gratitude to Václav Havel, who died this month, for enabling a generation to gain the chance to live in truth.
Anthony Howard's insight:

This is one of my all time favourites. Sachs' opening sentence captures the real challenge facing society: a shortage of moral leadership. In a world experiencing the consquences of the divorce between markets and morals, the example of Vaclav Havel which Sachs captures can inspire us to speak truth to power, to replace self-interest with service, and to pursue person centred goals rather than profit centred objectives.

And it starts with being true to ourselves.

While Sakharov, Ghandi, Havel et al, could point to the 'enemy' they sought to resist, the threat posed by a lack of wise guides, moral relativism, and underlying greed is less easy to identify.

Who are the moral leaders of today? What can each of us do to grow in moral leadership?

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Putting the M&A in romance

Putting the M&A in romance | Moral Leadership | Scoop.it
Office lovebirds Cassandra Kelly and Nigel Lake say they have built an M&A advisory firm that is fundamentally different from Wall Street's harsh template.
Anthony Howard's insight:

Cassandra and Nigel have built a business guided by a moral compass. Results demonstrate that genuinely caring for people and putting their needs first (wherever they are in the stakeholder map) generates profits. Don't fall into the trap of thinking its all touchy feely.  Cassandra and Nigel are seriously bright people driving a very robust business, delivering exceptional results for clients. They just happen to take a bigger perspective on decisions. A firm to watch.

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Leadership Is a Social Business

Leadership Is a Social Business | Moral Leadership | Scoop.it
Somewhere along the line, leadership forgot who it was … (RT @shawmu: ##Leadership Is a Social Business http://t.co/Ev84XBsc20 #switchandshift #featured)...

Via John Michel
Anthony Howard's insight:

Lisa's opening sentence get to the heart of the matter confronting organisations today. Leadership is about WHO you lead.  And 'who' is a collection of individuals with hopes and dreams and aspirations. Leaders who put people first, and make people centric decisions, cannot fail to build great organisations. They may not generate the returns of those who slash, burn and outsource staff, but their is a far greater probabilty of the firm still being in existence long after management fads pass into history.

 

Good article Lisa

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John Michel's curator insight, May 9, 2013 4:09 PM

Leadership is a social business. It is most simply defined as the act of motivating a group toward achieving a goal or vision. It’s fundamentallyabout people.

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The Benefits of Character Education

The Benefits of Character Education | Moral Leadership | Scoop.it
What I learned from teaching at a "core virtues" school
Anthony Howard's insight:

since so many schools and societies have failed to provide sufficient education in character, the responsibility now falls to organisations to develop character in their people, or risk accepting behaviour that lacks self-control, sound reasoning, mutual respect, shared responsibility, hard work and diligence.

Boards and CEOs need to model the behaviours they want copied in the organisation. Moral leadership and character development is the place to start.

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Understanding Adam Smith's virtue, prudence - Washington Times

Understanding Adam Smith's virtue, prudence - Washington Times | Moral Leadership | Scoop.it
Washington Times
Understanding Adam Smith's virtue, prudence
Washington Times
It seems that one of the most important virtues has been long forgotten: prudence. “Prudence” is a word rarely uttered anymore.
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