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Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

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“Leaders Should Set a Clear and Decisive Tone at the Top”

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Admiral Hyman Rickover, USN

Admiral Hyman Rickover, USN

The wealth, power and influence of the great leaders is widely known. How they achieved it is another issue unto itself. They were people of achievement, capability and resilience. They had their personal convictions continually tested as they faced countless and enormous difficulties and challenges. Yet, it was their character, ethics, morals and values that utterly defined them as great leaders. In the quest for wealth, fame and power, many individuals will tend to sacrifice these qualities on the altar of achievement.

Admiral Hyman Rickover in a 1977 speech stated, “There is abundant evidence around us to conclude that morals and ethics are becoming less prevalent in people’s lives. The standards of conduct, which lay deeply buried in accepted though for centuries no long are absolute. Many people seem unable to differentiate between physical relief and moral satisfaction; they confuse material success in life with virtue.” What distinguished the great leaders from typical ones was their refusal to sell themselves out, or to compromise their integrity for the sake of money, power or prestige.

Rickover was prophetic. Since his remarks, this country has seen corporate scandal after scandal occur, including a stable of well-known companies, such as Drexel Burnham, Enron, Arthur Anderson, WorldCom, Tyco International, Countrywide, AIG, and Lehman Brothers, just to list a few. The actions of a handful of wealthy and influential leaders  threw the country into a financial panic, as well as a lengthy and deep recession. It resulted in costing millions of individuals and families their homes, savings and retirements. It destroyed trust and credibility within our society. This was further exasperated when many of the companies and leaders who were directly responsible for such pain and misery became isolated from the consequences of their actions and behaviors through government bailouts, generous “golden parachutes,” and performance bonuses.

Sharon Allen, Chairman of Deloitte LLP wrote in the introduction to The Deloitte LLP 2010 Ethics & Workplace Survey, “Regardless of the economic environment, business leaders should be mindful of the significant impact that trust in the workplace… By establishing a values-based culture, organizations can cultivate the trust necessary to reduce turnover and mitigate unethical behavior…. Ultimately, an organization’s most senior leaders should set a clear and decisive tone at the top.”

“Ethics and moral judgment are not new concepts for leadership. They have been identified as critical characteristics of leadership over the last century. An organization’s leaders help define the culture, values, standards, and moral character of the organization having ramifications both inside and external to the organization. Ethical leaders have been found to display pride yet reject selfish and conceited behavior… Ethical leaders are not normally high-profile charismatic leaders but are quiet leaders moving ‘patiently, carefully, and incrementally…’”

The great leaders are defined by who they are as individuals. They have all been shaped by their character, morals, values, integrity and ethics. These are the values that define them as being truly great and valuable, whether or not they actually achieved publically recognized pinnacles of success.

  1. Admiral Rickover H.C., Thoughts on Man’s Purpose in Life (speech presented at the San Diego Rotary Club, 1977)
  2. The Deloitte LLP 2010 Ethics & Workplace Survey (Deloitte LLP, August, 2010)
  3. Scharff M.M., WorldCom: A Failure of Moral and Ethical Values (Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship, July 2005)

Excerpt: Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It. (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011)

Read a free Chapter

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2014 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Seven Practical Applications of Ethics

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manatangle

An organization and each of its employees, wherever they may be located, must conduct their affairs with uncompromising honesty and integrity. Business ethics are no different than personal ethics and the same high standard applies to both. As a representative of their company all employees are required to adhere to the highest standard, regardless of local custom.

Everyone is responsible for their own behavior. We live in a culture where responsibility and accountability are minimized, with individuals hiding behind the label of “victim” as an excuse for their actions. There is right and wrong, black and white, but many would prefer to operate in shades of gray. As long as they do not cross the line, they feel that they are fine. As long as no one catches them, their behavior is acceptable.

Individuals operating in shades of gray feel ethics are not as important as the legality of their actions and think the ends justify the means. After all it is a results-driven environment and it is the results that matter.

While certain actions might be legal, they may also be unethical and reflect poorly on an organization as well as the individuals responsible for them. If these actions are tolerated and allowed, an organizational culture is created that undermines the customer’s confidence in the company, as well as its products and services and ultimately destroys its reputation in the marketplace.

Allowing even a single unethical activity can pull a thread that ultimately unravels the cloth of an organization. Actions have consequences and unethical actions and their consequences can have a rippling effect within a company. If all employees understand this and apply it to their actions and the actions of their colleagues, it will result in a stronger company. Both the company and an employees’ ongoing employment within it require compliance to this philosophy.

Ethical behavior cannot be legislated. It is a combination of strong values and the impact of the example set by peers and superiors. To better appreciate ethics, individuals must understand how the following factors interact with each other to impact their actions, behaviors and decisions:

Values

Values are the principles or standards of personal behavior. Most values are shaped early in life by parents, families, friends, teachers and spiritual leaders. As individuals mature, their values can be changed or biased by their experiences and the choices they make in life. Specific examples of sound values include honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, fairness and a sense of justice.

A primary value possessed by most individuals is acknowledging the difference between what is right and what is wrong. How one acts on this knowledge is the core of both value-based and ethical behaviors.

Norms

Norms are the guidelines or guiding values that define behavior in specific situations. Norms governing employee behavior can be formed by organizations, informally created by groups, or established by individual values. Some examples of organizational norms include:

  • Every employee is 100% responsible for their behavior.
  • Ethics are ethics.
  • There is no difference between business and personal ethics.
  • Ethics are critically important in both business and in life.
  • Employees are expected to act ethically 100% of the time.
  • Whether they will be discovered or not, employees must always do the right thing.
  • There are leadership obligations, which include giving clear direction and teaching fellow employees by example.
  • It is an employee’s obligation to keep those they supervise acting ethically.
  • Employees are expected to stop unethical acts, even if they think it will jeopardize their job.

Convictions

A conviction is a firmly held belief or opinion and can include one’s values, beliefs, corporate values and norms. A company’s strong ethical program relies upon employees’ uncompromising belief or conviction in “always doing the right thing.” This underlying conviction is the foundation for success.

Integrity

Integrity means acting unbiased by self-interest and within the framework of one’s values and norms. One of the most generally accepted norms of organizational behavior is that an individual’s private interests or desire to benefit personally should not influence how they carry out their responsibilities. An employee is corrupt when he or she damages the company by deriving personal benefits and gains from their decisions and actions.

Choices

Ethics is the collection of values, norms, standards and principles that provides a framework for action. Action requires individuals to make choices. Ethical choices often create personal dilemmas, where decisions may conflict with one’s personal values and beliefs. The bottom line in ethical behavior is determined by the individual choices one makes in both their business dealings and in their personal lives.

Ethical choices and decisions are unquestionably difficult to make. Some may impact profitability, employment or even personal relationships. The dilemma often lies in defining “the right thing,” which is not always obvious. This often involves determining and weighing the various consequences specific decisions will have on the problem or situation. Ethical decision making is further complicated by all involved parties emotionally arguing their positions. Emotional arguments are subjective and tend to charge the decision making environment. The right choice or “the right thing” will be an objective choice free of emotionalism. Once identified, the decision should be straightforward.

Courage

It takes courage to be ethical in the current cultural environment. Ethical decisions can be unpopular because of their impact on both the company and other employees. They can be stressful because of a fear of retribution or reprisals within the company and from others.

Courage must come from the uncompromising convictions, values and beliefs supported by an organization’s ethical philosophies and reinforced by the belief in “always doing the right thing.”

Behaviors

Integrity or ethical behavior is guided by each of the factors discussed within this lesson including values, norms, convictions, integrity, choices and courage. None is independent of the others and each supports the others. They are what define your behaviors as either ethical or unethical. Together they provide you with the guidelines that define your behavior.

Excerpt: Business Ethics: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 19.95 USD

Related:

You Are Judged by the Actions You Take

Emotional Bonds are a Reflection of a Leader’s Effectiveness

Six Ways to Enhance Your Personal Credibility

 Can You Be Trusted? The Answer May Surprise You

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Have You Earned Permission to Lead?

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legitimacyprincipleschart

The fundamental essence of leadership is legitimacy, whose substance is based upon authority and validity. While authority is conferred, validity is earned through the development of credibility, trust and a balance of emotional standing and connections, with all key constituencies.

Legitimacy is a cornerstone of effective leadership. All of the great leaders have it. However, legitimacy is seldom discussed, if even mentioned in most leadership books. This leads to confusion as to what defines legitimacy. Its definition needs to be clarified and placed within the proper context.

Legitimacy is derived from two separate sources that give leaders permission to lead. The first source is authority or the power granted to leaders by either election, or appointment to an office. In the business setting, this is conferred by the stockholders through the board of directors.

The second source is validity. Validity is not conferred, nor is it automatically achieved once a leader is appointed to a position. It is earned and is a contributing factor to the authority granted to a leader, typically over the span of his or her career. This defines a leader as genuine and authentic in the eyes of all key constituencies.

Both sources of legitimacy compliment each other, but validity provides an enduring, yet fragile acquiescence of all the constituencies that gives a leader the tacit permission to lead. It is built upon three critical factors: trust, credibility and emotional balance. These are the hallmarks of great leaders. Without the presence of these critical factors, the leader’s validity collapses. Once a leader loses his or her validity, the authority to lead is effectively undermined.

“Leadership is a privilege. Those who receive the mantle must also know they can expect an accounting of their stewardships. It is not uncommon for people to forego higher salaries to join an organization with strong, ethical leadership. Most individuals desire leadership they can admire and respect. They want to be in sync with that brand of leader, and will often parallel their own lives after that person…” [1]

[1] Huntsman,Jon M. Winners Never Cheat Even in Difficult Times (Wharton School Publishing, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2009) p 73

Excerpt: Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011)

Read a Free Chapter

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

//

Ethics: Actions Do Have Consequences

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womancrowd

Although ethics and personal integrity appear to have a diminishing role in our culture, when a massive failure of ethics and moral standards results in corporate implosions such as the Enron bankruptcy, as well as the collapse of the financial markets people notice. There is no question that in business, the highest moral and ethical standards are expected and demanded.

Actions do have consequences. Despite the thinking in popular culture that has helped enable a number of political leaders’ “ethical lapses,” in business ethics and integrity are closely paid attention to by superiors, associates, subordinates—and most importantly, customers.

All of these people judge managers and employees by their actions, not their words. Even a minor lapse in ethical judgment is not easily forgiven or forgotten.

This is important for managers to consider because their behavior impacts people on multiple levels. The consequences and implications of any ethical decision are far-reaching and must be carefully thought through before the action is taken.

The moral and ethical behavior of a manager has many consequences and implications beyond an immediate judgment or choice. Ethical behavior and integrity play an essential role in any manager’s position, for the following reasons:

Trust

The basis of all relationships is trust. Managers are primarily responsible for the directing of human resources. While they may also be responsible for the tools and equipment associated with business, their primary charge is the management of their individual employees. In this capacity, they are dealing with superiors and subordinates in financial terms.

Superiors are relying on the manager to provide accurate reports and records of their unit’s activities. The employee relies on the manager to assure that his or her efforts are supported and performance accurately reported.

The foundation of and glue that holds these relationships together is trust. Any ethical lapse is considered a breach of trust and will result in the pillars of management collapsing. Once this occurs, the manager has lost their effectiveness.

Rapport

Rapport is the building and nurturing of quality relationships. This is a term normally used to describe relationships among employees, but it goes beyond this. Managers require good rapport at all levels with their superiors, subordinates and associates.

The manager’s role is to act as a liaison between the various levels they are in communication with. The employee has access to his or her manager. The manager has full access from senior management to support staff.

Exceptional management, support and communication means the manager must actively maintain good rapport at every level. However, building relationships and establishing rapport is a people skill that further demands trust and ethical behavior. These are the cornerstones of building rapport on all levels. Any degree of moral and ethical failure at any level will undermine the manager’s efforts and effectiveness.

Credibility

There are managers who have undoubtedly displayed lapses in moral and ethical judgment, yet still maintained their job and position. They may have shielded their actions from their superiors, but not from their subordinates. In some instances they may have made statements or promises and failed to follow up on them.

In any ethical failure, they have betrayed the trust of their subordinates. When this occurs, these managers have lost credibility in the eyes of their people, which more often than not results in sapping their motivation.

Employees will either leave or let their performance drop knowing their manager has little integrity. While these managers might think they have won in the short-term, in the long run there are profound consequences to be paid.

Reliability

Managers who have betrayed trust cannot be relied upon. If this occurs between the manager and his or her superiors, it is dealt with on the senior level, normally resulting in termination.

A loss of credibility with individual employees will result in them being unable to trust the manager. Rapport with these individuals will be eroded to the point that all work-related effectiveness is lost.

The consequences will be a revolving door of people under the manager’s responsibility, as any respectable person will not continue under these circumstances.

Reputation

A person’s reputation is the most valued possession that they have. Once destroyed, a personal reputation is difficult, if not impossible, to restore. The same is true for a company’s reputation.

A manager holds the responsibility for both his or her reputation as well as the company’s. His or her personal actions have a double, if not triple, impact since senior managers, his or her subordinates, and the company’s customers are continually examining his or her actions. This is an awesome responsibility unparalleled in magnitude in any organizational environment.

Related:

You Are Judged by the Actions You Take

Emotional Bonds are a Reflection of a Leader’s Effectiveness

Six Ways to Enhance Your Personal Credibility

 Emotional Bonds are a Reflection of a Leader’s Effectiveness

 Can You Be Trusted? The Answer May Surprise You

Excerpt: Ethics & Integrity: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series by Timothy Bednarz (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011)

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Ethics: Actions Do Have Consequences

with 2 comments

Although ethics and personal integrity appear to have a diminishing role in our culture, when a massive failure of ethics and moral standards results in corporate implosions such as the Enron bankruptcy, as well as the collapse of the financial markets people notice. There is no question that in business, the highest moral and ethical standards are expected and demanded.

Actions do have consequences. Despite the thinking in popular culture that has helped enable a number of political leaders’ “ethical lapses,” in business ethics and integrity are closely paid attention to by superiors, associates, subordinates—and most importantly, customers.

All of these people judge managers and employees by their actions, not their words. Even a minor lapse in ethical judgment is not easily forgiven or forgotten.

This is important for managers to consider because their behavior impacts people on multiple levels. The consequences and implications of any ethical decision are far-reaching and must be carefully thought through before the action is taken.

The moral and ethical behavior of a manager has many consequences and implications beyond an immediate judgment or choice. Ethical behavior and integrity play an essential role in any manager’s position, for the following reasons:

Trust

The basis of all relationships is trust. Managers are primarily responsible for the directing of human resources. While they may also be responsible for the tools and equipment associated with business, their primary charge is the management of their individual employees. In this capacity, they are dealing with superiors and subordinates in financial terms.

Superiors are relying on the manager to provide accurate reports and records of their unit’s activities. The employee relies on the manager to assure that his or her efforts are supported and performance accurately reported.

The foundation of and glue that holds these relationships together is trust. Any ethical lapse is considered a breach of trust and will result in the pillars of management collapsing. Once this occurs, the manager has lost their effectiveness.

Related: Can You Be Trusted? The Answer May Surprise You

Rapport

Rapport is the building and nurturing of quality relationships. This is a term normally used to describe relationships among employees, but it goes beyond this. Managers require good rapport at all levels with their superiors, subordinates and associates.

The manager’s role is to act as a liaison between the various levels they are in communication with. The employee has access to his or her manager. The manager has full access from senior management to support staff.

Exceptional management, support and communication means the manager must actively maintain good rapport at every level. However, building relationships and establishing rapport is a people skill that further demands trust and ethical behavior. These are the cornerstones of building rapport on all levels. Any degree of moral and ethical failure at any level will undermine the manager’s efforts and effectiveness.

Related: Emotional Bonds are a Reflection of a Leader’s Effectiveness

Credibility

There are managers who have undoubtedly displayed lapses in moral and ethical judgment, yet still maintained their job and position. They may have shielded their actions from their superiors, but not from their subordinates. In some instances they may have made statements or promises and failed to follow up on them.

In any ethical failure, they have betrayed the trust of their subordinates. When this occurs, these managers have lost credibility in the eyes of their people, which more often than not results in sapping their motivation.

Employees will either leave or let their performance drop knowing their manager has little integrity. While these managers might think they have won in the short-term, in the long run there are profound consequences to be paid.

Related: Six Ways to Enhance Your Personal Credibility

Reliability

Managers who have betrayed trust cannot be relied upon. If this occurs between the manager and his or her superiors, it is dealt with on the senior level, normally resulting in termination.

A loss of credibility with individual employees will result in them being unable to trust the manager. Rapport with these individuals will be eroded to the point that all work-related effectiveness is lost.

The consequences will be a revolving door of people under the manager’s responsibility, as any respectable person will not continue under these circumstances.

Related: Emotional Bonds are a Reflection of a Leader’s Effectiveness

Reputation

A person’s reputation is the most valued possession that they have. Once destroyed, a personal reputation is difficult, if not impossible, to restore. The same is true for a company’s reputation.

A manager holds the responsibility for both his or her reputation as well as the company’s. His or her personal actions have a double, if not triple, impact since senior managers, his or her subordinates, and the company’s customers are continually examining his or her actions. This is an awesome responsibility unparalleled in magnitude in any organizational environment.

Related: You Are Judged by the Actions You Take

Excerpt: Ethics & Integrity: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series by Timothy Bednarz (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011)

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Ethics impacts a leader’s credibility

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John Huntsman, Sr. – CEO Huntsman Chemical

Jon Huntsman (Huntsman Chemical) wrote in Winners Never Cheat Even in Difficult Times (Wharton School Publishing, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 2008):

“Gray is not a substitute for black and white. You don’t bump into people without saying you’re sorry. When you shake hands, it’s supposed to mean something. If someone is in trouble, you reach out. Values aren’t to be conveniently molded to fit particular situations. They are indelibly itched in our very beings as natural impulses that never go stale or find themselves out of style.”

In the truest sense, ethics are black or white. Either leaders have them, or they do not. They obviously impact a leader’s credibility. More problematic is the ethically neutral leader, who prefers to operate in areas of gray.

Prime examples of ethically neutral leaders include J.P. Morgan (J.P. Morgan Bank) and John D. Rockefeller (Standard Oil). Both were known to overlook ethical practices to advance their goals, although they both considered themselves to be highly ethical.

Morgan was known to take advantage of financial crisis to acquire weak companies to grow his empire. During the 1907 Financial Panic, Morgan manipulated the circumstances and seized control of Westinghouse Electric, due to the acrimony created between the two by Westinghouse’s convictions.

Rockefeller continually skirted ethical issues as he used his manufacturing power to price competition out of the market.

Corporate leaders are placed under tremendous pressure by stockholders to produce a quick and steady stream of profits. Under this pressure, many ethically neutral leaders will make risky financial decisions to placate them, but place the organization at risk. The collective ethically neutral actions of many prominent leaders contributed to the financial collapse of 2007.

Jon Huntsman also observed in his book,

“Compensation has replaced ethics as a governing principle. Wall Street has but two objectives: How much money can I make? And how fast can I make it? The markets and traditional values don’t always mix well. Wall Street thinks there is nothing wrong with this sort of behavior because everyone does it, but the lack of a sense of integrity also produces a lack of respect. WorldCom, Tyco, Enron, and other giant companies had leaders who failed to play fair. Because they cheated, they lost. Accumulation of power and wealth became a driving force to these executives. They forgot the golden rule of integrity: Trust is a greater compliment than affection. With integrity comes respect.”

Ethics and ethical practices have an impact. Ethical actions flow downhill. Ethical practices within an organization are dictated from the top. Highly ethical practices are either enforced, ultimately cleansing the organization, or ignored. Unenforced ones poison the culture and lead to problems and unintended consequences, which can have severe financial reverberations to the organization.

The Deloitte LLP 2010 Ethics & Workplace Survey disclosed that 65% of executives surveyed reported that an employee’s loss of trust in a company contributed to increased voluntary turnover as the economy improves.

This increases the costs associated with hiring and training new employees, while reducing productivity and efficiency until new hires are brought up to speed. The Deloitte Survey notes,

“Business leaders should be mindful of the significant impact that trust in the workplace… can have… A values-based culture… can cultivate the trust necessary to reduce turnover and mitigate unethical behavior… Ultimately, an organization’s most senior leaders should set a clear and decisive tone at the top.”

For more information on this topic, refer to Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It by Timothy F. Bednarz (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011).

 

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Adapted from article published on the Examiner.com on October 19, 2012.

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

“Leaders Should Set a Clear and Decisive Tone at the Top”

with 4 comments

Admiral Hyman Rickover on an Inspection Tour

The wealth, power and influence of the great leaders is widely known. How they achieved it is another issue unto itself. They were people of achievement, capability and resilience. They had their personal convictions continually tested as they faced countless and enormous difficulties and challenges. Yet, it was their character, ethics, morals and values that utterly defined them as great leaders. In the quest for wealth, fame and power, many individuals will tend to sacrifice these qualities on the altar of achievement.

Admiral Hyman Rickover in a 1977 speech stated, “There is abundant evidence around us to conclude that morals and ethics are becoming less prevalent in people’s lives. The standards of conduct, which lay deeply buried in accepted though for centuries no long are absolute. Many people seem unable to differentiate between physical relief and moral satisfaction; they confuse material success in life with virtue.” What distinguished the great leaders from typical ones was their refusal to sell themselves out, or to compromise their integrity for the sake of money, power or prestige.

Rickover was prophetic. Since his remarks, this country has seen corporate scandal after scandal occur, including a stable of well-known companies, such as Drexel Burnham, Enron, Arthur Anderson, WorldCom, Tyco International, Countrywide, AIG, and Lehman Brothers, just to list a few. The actions of a handful of wealthy and influential leaders  threw the country into a financial panic, as well as a lengthy and deep recession. It resulted in costing millions of individuals and families their homes, savings and retirements. It destroyed trust and credibility within our society. This was further exasperated when many of the companies and leaders who were directly responsible for such pain and misery became isolated from the consequences of their actions and behaviors through government bailouts, generous “golden parachutes,” and performance bonuses.

Sharon Allen, Chairman of Deloitte LLP wrote in the introduction to The Deloitte LLP 2010 Ethics & Workplace Survey, “Regardless of the economic environment, business leaders should be mindful of the significant impact that trust in the workplace… By establishing a values-based culture, organizations can cultivate the trust necessary to reduce turnover and mitigate unethical behavior…. Ultimately, an organization’s most senior leaders should set a clear and decisive tone at the top.”

“Ethics and moral judgment are not new concepts for leadership. They have been identified as critical characteristics of leadership over the last century. An organization’s leaders help define the culture, values, standards, and moral character of the organization having ramifications both inside and external to the organization. Ethical leaders have been found to display pride yet reject selfish and conceited behavior… Ethical leaders are not normally high-profile charismatic leaders but are quiet leaders moving ‘patiently, carefully, and incrementally…’”

The great leaders are defined by who they are as individuals. They have all been shaped by their character, morals, values, integrity and ethics. These are the values that define them as being truly great and valuable, whether or not they actually achieved publically recognized pinnacles of success.

  1. Admiral Rickover H.C., Thoughts on Man’s Purpose in Life (speech presented at the San Diego Rotary Club, 1977)
  2. The Deloitte LLP 2010 Ethics & Workplace Survey (Deloitte LLP, August, 2010)
  3. Scharff M.M., WorldCom: A Failure of Moral and Ethical Values (Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship, July 2005)

Excerpt: Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It. (Majorium Business Press, 2011)

If you would like to learn more about the importance of character of the great American leaders through their own inspiring words and stories, refer to Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It. It illustrates how great leaders built great companies, and how you can apply the strategies, concepts and techniques that they pioneered to improve your own leadership skills. Click here to learn more.

______________________________________________________________________________

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

March 22, 2012 at 10:18 am

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