This is the last of seven posts on AchieveGlobal's international study of leadership today, "Developing the 21st-Century Leader." Be sure to read the complete report.
Daily headlines continue to underscore recent high-profile failures of ethical leadership: manufacturers that hide physical dangers, finance companies that sell ruinous products, federal employees who violate the public trust.
These horror stories might call to mind your college ethics class - maybe even Mill's Principle of Utility (the greatest good for the greatest number) or Kant's Categorical Imperative (what's right in one situation is right in all).
While received wisdom can lead us astray, AchieveGlobal's 2009 global study suggests, in this case, that wisdom may be on target. The research identified "Society" as one of six critical zones of 21st-century leadership (along with Reflection, Diversity, Ingenuity, People, and Business). Effective leaders, we found, apply principles such as fairness, respect, and "the greater good" to balance individual and group welfare.
Still in the throes of a slow-motion economic crisis, we continue to ask, "How can leaders correct and avoid the mistakes that got us into this mess?" Seven best practices that the research grouped in the zone of Society offer one credible answer:
- Act ethically to serve the larger good, not just to obey the law.
- Encourage others to take socially responsible action.
- Openly challenge what you consider unethical decisions and actions.
- Take action to benefit others, not just yourself.
- Recognize and reward others based on merit, not on politics.
- Make fair decisions, even if they have a negative impact on yourself.
- Take steps to reduce environmental harm.
Craig Perrin is Director of Solution Development at AchieveGlobal in Tampa, Florida