➻ Ted Coiné is on a mission to perpetuate the idea that ethical leadership practices will lead companies to the promise land. In a piece on Switch & Shift titled “Leadership Ethics: It doesn’t depend”, Coiné writes that Ethics today save you money tomorrow. But that’s not all. Ethics today makes you more money, every day of the year, for generations.
- Because your workers at all levels care, and so they pitch in with zest to make your company great.
- They think about improving your firm all week long, and they bring those off-hour innovations to work.
- They bring you their most talented friends at hiring time, and you don’t have to bribe them to do it.
- They represent your brand with pride in person and on social media, without your even realizing it.
- Your customers stay with you because you stand for something too few companies do.
- New customers seek you out, because they love what you stand for.
- In times of trouble, your employees, your customers, your vendors, and the community all stay with you, even pitch in to see you through it, because they believe in you.
While later in the piece Coiné offers a “Do it because it’s right” position (really everyone, please do it because it’s right), he also realizes that the way to impact leaders is by appealing to their profit-seeking senses. In one paragraph, I think Coiné could have taken it a little bit further.
Can you put a price tag on that? Can you measure it? Perhaps you could by tracking long-term survival, or profitability, or maybe stock price, as some funds like Parnassus do. I’ll leave that up to you.
Business leaders can’t deal with perhapses and maybes. They want data because investors and stakeholders want data. Leaving it up to leaders themselves to measure, track, and analyze won’t cut it. There’s a breadth of data out there, studies that link ethical business behavior to healthy bottom lines. A quick Google search would have provided Coiné studies linking corporate responsibility, ethical leadership, and sustainable business practices to bottom-line health. Perhaps I’m picking the nit, but just a little bit more depth can go a long way to changing one leader at a time.
I want to believe that Coiné, and the scores of others trying to change profit-first, humanity second, leadership, will succeed in causing a meaningful paradigm shift. It’s sometimes difficult to be convinced, though.
➻ Just yesterday, Bloomberg Businessweek revealed how hungry Pandora is to cash in on political vitriol. From Joshua Brustein’s piece entitled “Pandora Knows How to Cash In on Nasty Politics.”
“When we do take advertising dollars from political movements in particular, the number of e-mails and calls to customer service goes up quite dramatically, and not thanking us for targeting them, generally,” said Michael Herring, Pandora’s chief financial officer, in a conference call with investors in February. “It’s just because politics strikes a raw nerve here no matter what your demographic is.”
Translation: We care about our customers/users/listeners until there is a giant pile of money sitting in front of us. Golden Rule considerations are cute and all, but boy do we really want that money.
➻ My hope for the world to achieve Coiné’s vision gets further suppressed when looking at leadership in the political realm. While the payoff for ethical compromise is far less immediately transparent for political leaders, when examining a substantial amount of public policy decisions, is there any other logical conclusion other than ethical compromise?
Danielle Kurtzleben wrote at Vox that “Suburban sprawl and bad transit can crush opportunity for the poor.”
There’s an array of economic literature out there connecting the two, showing that places with plenty of opportunities for geographic mobility have more economic mobility as well. But for a city to boost opportunity by boosting transit, the answer is a complicated mix that also includes zoning and picking the right type of transit — perhaps at the risk of displeasing its wealthier residents.
Study after study demonstrates that really good public transportation, especially when combined with other urban design and planning initiatives, lift people out of poverty. Politicians nationwide have repeatedly turned down federal dollars that would have either enhanced or built from scratch new public transportation models. I ask again: when examining a substantial amount of public policy decisions, is there any other logical conclusion other than ethical compromise?
I’m still holding onto hope, though. Both in the “real world” and within academic institutions, there are a lot of really smart writers, speakers, teachers, and thought leaders fighting for ethical leadership. An ethical utopia is certainly out of the question, but continuing on an upward ethical trajectory is nothing to sneeze at.
➻ Brian Kenney at Publisher’s Weekly is taking a stand against “curation”.
I knew the word “curate” had successfully shed its musty history—cluttered with Etruscan vases and dioramas of American bison—when I got an email from Brooks Brothers a few years back announcing that it had “carefully curated” a collection of shirts for my consideration. No matter that they were the same dull shirts foisted on me the week before. Congratulations to you, “curate,” I remember thinking at the time. You’ve joined an elite handful of other buzzwords—like “artisanal”—that have gone on to attempt to transform the banal into the fabulous.
On this blog and on other 800-CEO-READ channels, we’ve always tried to maintain an intelligent, forward-thinking curatorial spirit, meaning we are conscious about making sure you are presented with valuable content. So, we hold “curation” in high regard. What troubles Kenney is that too many marketers and publishers don’t respect “curation” enough to not overuse the word, or to obfuscate the word’s intention completely.
Instead of focusing today on improper and borderline criminal uses of curation, let’s point to two nobly-used examples.
➻ Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company) publishes some of the best business content out there. In taking a cue from non-business publishers like McSweeney’s and Pitchfork, Strategy& Foresight is a new quarterly offering of themed and curated Strategy& content.
Every quarter we publish more than 100 pieces of thought leadership, and it is my pleasure to share this curated list of a selection of our most insightful and provocative new articles. This quarter, all roads lead to growth. Virtually every company is chasing it, and in today’s turbulent market, it’s more difficult than ever to build good growth that lasts.
It’s not uncommon for knowledge seekers to explore and exhaust a theme, genre, or competency. It’s how we learn what we want to learn, and ultimately, how we grow. By organizing their own previously published work by theme, it makes it easier for us to focus. That’s curation.
➻ The second example of curation you can quibble with. Again courtesy of Strategy&, Eric McNulty suggests six business books that might “help cultivate your leadership acumen.” About one of his picks, McNulty writes:
There is an increasing recognition that people are critical to differentiating organizations and creating competitive advantage. This is the culture-eats-strategy-for-lunch (or breakfast if you are a Drucker purist) argument. InThe Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success (Jossey-Bass, 2014), Fortune publisher Rich Karlgaard has distilled a version of this into what he calls “the soft edge”—as compared to strategy and execution, the “hard” components of success. He has identified five values-based variables that comprise the soft edge—trust, smarts, teamwork, taste, and story, and developed an engaging framework populated with a compelling assortment of real-life examples from organizations such as FedEx, the Mayo Clinic, and Specialized Bicycles. Some of these stories may be familiar to you, but they are nicely woven together to make Karlgaard’s larger point: Companies that succeed over the long term have mastered the variables of the soft edge in addition to strategy and execution. The hard truth made clear in this book is that soft matters—a lot.
Some might argue that McNulty just made a list. I say that while he did, indeed, compile a list of books, he also wrote several hundred words about why these six books might be important for your development. Additionally, McNulty is the director of research at the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative. Expertise + thoughtful presentation of content = curation.
➻ “I know my words will dry upon the skin. Just like a name I remember hearing. Wild winter, warm coffee. Mom’s gone, do you love me?”