Posts Tagged Society

The Practice of Ethics – A Leadership Guide

Morality – A critical success factor for business and society?

Luke Andreski – Graham Williams

 

There can be little doubt that we have reached a point in our history which is marked by profound ethical issues.

We face the acceleration of AI, an environmental crisis, the potential for future conflict over resource, probable large-scale migrations and an ascendancy of populist authoritarianism in politics across the world.

In parallel with this, another disturbing change has occurred. Morality has become unfashionable. It is no longer cool – and now carries with it connotations of ‘moralising’, of self-satisfaction or superiority, of being ‘moralistic’ or ‘preachy’. It’s as if, in the world of realpolitik and commerce, ethics no longer matter. Effectiveness and profit have taken morality’s place. ‘What’s in it for me?’ has become our guiding principle.

Yet this is a guiding principle which places our world in jeopardy. ‘What’s in it for me?’ cannot provide a solution to the major challenges which our businesses, our economies and even our species now face.

In addition to compassion, truth is at the heart of any moral code. If we cannot see our world clearly, if we are unable to separate reality from fake news or ideology, then how can we navigate our way towards personal, business or wider societal success? The reverse is also true. As our society drifts away from honesty, so it increasingly attacks it: a vicious circle we see all around us. It is now common to say, particularly of our politicians, that ‘everybody lies’. This then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Lying is normalised. We see this amongst some of the most prominent politicians of today’s world. A willingness to lie is no longer considered a quality which debars them from office. And the more they lie, the more they hate the truth. To quote George Orwell, “The further society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.” A wonderful example of this is seen in this interview with Michael Gove, the British politician campaigning for Brexit and the re-election of the Boris Johnson government:

https://www.channel4.com/news/michael-gove-interview-on-truth-lies-and-brexit.

It is also replicated in the many attacks we see from populist politicians on journalism and the press. Populism disdains experts and facts.

 

“To assert that everybody lies becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Lying is normalised.”

 

In collaboration with Graham Williams, a writer and consultant based in Cape Town, South Africa, I’ve been looking at how we can reassert the value of morality, honesty and compassion in a business context, and also for society as a whole. In a series of articles for Phase3 Consulting and HRZone I’ve argued for the value of ethics specifically within business. In my book Intelligent Ethics I expand this argument to society as a whole; and in his powerful work, The Virtuosa Organisation, Graham takes a similar approach.

 

There are so often situations in the marketplace where “business considerations” take precedence over ethical considerations – an either/or solution. Our contention is that this is a mistaken dichotomy. Business considerations (efficiency and profit) are in fact enhanced by adopting an ethical approach. Unethical practices exist in many toxic workplaces, including all forms of discrimination and exclusion, harassment, overt or unconscious prejudice and bullying – and tackling these can only benefit the performance, reputation and, ultimately, the profit of the business.

Leadership, training and coaching responses all too often fall into the ‘compliance’ and ‘rules’ category, when what is needed is:

  • Development of an intrinsic ethical maturity and value base
  • Encouragement of a learning, growth and mastery journey
  • Nurturing of appropriate application in the context of the situations faced and their community impacts

To assist with this, we have drawn together a map of ethical best practice, outlining a set of cultural, process and human capital considerations for business leaders, a framework for:

  • Providing a quick overview of the ethics landscape
  • Moving from a rules-based to a values-based mind-set
  • Guiding people how to behave positively and effectively, overcoming a bystander mentality
  • Entrenching an understanding that ethics is an important bridge in aligning behaviours with core values

 

“Business considerations (efficiency and profit) are in fact enhanced by adopting an ethical approach.”

 

We hope you find this guide useful.

 

The Practice of Ethics - A Leadership Guide - Luke Anddreski - Graham Williams Vs 1.1

 

Luke Andreski

Graham Williams

November 2019

 

 

 

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A short conversation about cooperation

1: An Introduction

Cooperation is at the heart of all life. Competition is just a side-show.

In our bodies, 37 trillion cells cooperate. Multi-celled organisms are cooperative endeavours. Bacteria cooperate. Herds, flocks, shoals and swarms cooperate. Families, tribes, cities, nations cooperate…

 

 

2: The Basis of Life

Before multi-celled organisms can compete the cells out of which they are made must collaborate: each cell cooperating with others to form the organism itself. Cooperation is a necessary precondition for competition. Even single-celled life achieved complexity through symbiosis – in other words, through cooperation.

 

 

3: An Act of Selflessness

Having offspring in any species and ensuring their survival is an act of selfless cooperation, with no guarantee of future benefit for the parent organisms. Individual selflessness is widespread – found throughout nature. Is it the gene, then, which is selfish? Acting competitively on behalf of its strain?

 

 

4: Agency

Yet genes have no agency. They merely encode patterns. They are passive devices for passing information down generations. Only when genes are embodied in the individual do they gain agency… and individuals cooperate. Selflessness and action for the common good are encoded in our genes.

 

 

5: Social Cooperation

Cooperation is at the heart of society. Our billionaires could not become billionaires without roads, energy supplies, infrastructure, education, government research, the innovations of others… i.e. without other people.

Economic competition is sustained by economic cooperation: by agreements, rules and laws.

 

 

6: Greed

Selfishness and private greed – sustained by the ideology of competition – in fact stifle competition, depriving the economic cycle of hoarded wealth.

Private greed is the enemy of both cooperation and the cooperative impulse: the rich are less charitable than the poor (see https://www.thelondoneconomic.com/news/environment/poor-people-really-are-more-charitable-than-the-rich-according-to-new-research/28/06/).

 

 

7: Communication = Cooperation

Even language is a cooperative construct. We would have no words, no poetry or literature without the cooperative act of establishing meaning. Our minds are products of cooperative interaction with others. Sentience is a group activity. ‘Others’ define us and help us make sense of our world.

 

 

8: An Ideological Error

It is a misinterpretation of nature to highlight competition above all things. The notion that competition is the basis of life or society is an erroneous ideology. The ideology itself could not exist without cooperation. Society, science, technology and language are all cooperative acts.

 

 

9: Interdependence

In summary: we need each other. We are all in the same boat. Competition is the smaller part of what we can offer one another and our society. Cooperation is the builder of our world – our greatest and most valuable skill.

 

Think of what we have achieved through cooperation: medicine, space flight, the internet, smart phones, immense cities which sustain vast numbers of cooperating individuals, an incredible technological civilisation…

 

Think of what we have yet to achieve – together.

 

 

 

www.ethicalintelligence.org  “The ethics of common sense”

Twitter & Facebook: @EthicalRenewal

 

For a detailed discussion of cooperation, see Ethical Intelligence by Luke Andreski:

www.amazon.co.uk/Ethical-Intelligence-Luke-Andreski/dp/179580579X

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