Archive for the ‘Integrity and Values’ Category

It seems that corporate and government secrets are being leaked with more frequency in recent history than ever before. Today, it was revealed that Edward Snowden, a former Booz Allen Hamilton employee, was the source of the leak concerning the NSA’s broad and, some would say, overreaching surveillance program. He is currently residing in Hong Kong in an attempt to escape prosecution by the Justice Department. The uptick in leaks such as these may be due in part to easier access to distribution channels via the Internet and a growing public demand for transparency and accountability in government agencies and companies alike.

While the reasons behind such leaks and whistleblowing efforts are often tied to an individual’s personal ethics, it is much harder to understand the conflict involved in the decision to leak information to the public. That decision often has serious and far-flung consequences for the whistleblower and his or her family. For example, Army private Bradley Manning, who leaked hundreds of thousands of pages of classified documents to website WikiLeaks, was arrested and jailed in May of 2010 and is currently in the process of being court-martialed. Edward Snowden could face extradition and be brought back to the U.S. for trial.

On the corporate front, whisteblowers such as Mark Whitacre (Archer Daniels Midland, 1992), and Jeffrey Wigand (Brown & Williamson, 1996) face financial and violent threats, the fear of being blacklisted, and, in some cases, prison time. Karen Silkwood, who uncovered health and safety issues surrounding the Kerr-McGee Cimarron Fuel Fabrication Site in Oklahoma, was killed in a suspicious car accident on her way to meet with a New York Times reporter about what she had uncovered. Because they face such potentially devastating consequences, corporate whistleblowers must carefully consider their decision to release sensitive information, weighing their moral and ethical obligations against their own personal wellbeing.

In their book, The Corporate Whistleblower’s Survival Guide, Tom Devine and Tarek F. Maassarani provide advice for employees considering whistleblowing and how they should handle themselves:

  • Before an employee challenges a company, that employee must understand how large organizations operate and how corporate bureaucracies react to troublemakers.
  • A prospective corporate whistleblower must be certain of what the objective is. Objectives may include being a good citizen, the desire to protect the public from a dangerous hazard, or compensation for damages.
  • When hiring an attorney, the attorney’s motivation for taking the case should be aligned with the whistleblower’s ultimate objective, be it protecting the public from a hazard or winning compensatory damages.
  • It is essential to examine and research the best channels for disclosure of information. Channels may include corporate management, hotlines, advocacy groups, public government agencies, law enforcement, government representatives, or the media.
  • Successful whistleblowing hinges more on relationships than on formal legal rights or resources. Relationships are as significant as the quality of the evidence and the efficacy of the strategy.
  • Advocacy organizations can be vital partners for whistleblowers, since these organizations can provide advice, research, and connections.

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John Baldoni, author and leadership consultant, believes that “when organizations succeed, it is because they know what they do and why they do it. We say they have ‘purpose.’” In Lead with Purpose, Baldoni lays out a plan for companies whose goals may have become lost in cultures of bureaucracy, lack of creativity, and icy relations among managers and employees. Purpose is an organization’s big picture. All tasks performed by an organization and its employees should focus on a common purpose, whether it is to become the market leader in manufacturing a particular product of delivering health care that makes people well while treating them with dignity and respect.

To download three free summaries, please visit our site.

Related book summaries in the BBS library: The Purpose Linked Organization, Common Purpose, The Why of Work

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The news of the Democratic walk out in Wisconsin and the possibility of a government shut down in the near future emphasize the need for responsible leadership now more than ever. As politics become more extreme, it is not a matter of who is right or wrong, but whether or not our leaders can act responsibly and be held accountable for carrying out the functions of their position.

In corporate life as in politics, leaders must be willing to fight for what they believe is right, but also have the courage to face challenges head on. There will always be opposition for any leader when working toward a vision or goal, but that opposition is necessary for pushing the leader to be his or her best. Individuals become stronger by having to surmount obstacles. Running away only delays the inevitable confrontation and weakens a person’s character.

When a leader is hired or appointed, his or her followers have expectations concerning what their leader will accomplish. Leaders must do their best to come through on these expectations, but must work within the system they find themselves. When hired or appointed, leaders recognize and agree to the rules and terms of their position; they should fight for what they believe is right, but respect the responsibilities that come with the job. If victory is not possible, leaders must accept defeat graciously and hope the opposition will do the same in the future.

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The key to high performance in the workplace goes beyond traditional “hard skills” — passion is an essential element of productivity. Employees who are able to identify a “passion and purpose” in their lives experience heightened engagement and innovation, and they feel connected to their work in exciting new ways. Organizations that cultivate this sense of engagement can gain a valuable edge in today’s competitive marketplace.

In The Purpose Linked Organization, leadership development experts Alaina Love and Marc Cugnon explain the powerful role passion and purpose play in the workplace and explain how leveraging them effectively can enhance organizational performance. Using the ten “Passion Profile Archetypes,” the authors show readers how they can hone the temperaments necessary for high performance and channel them in a positive direction.

For a free trial of EBSCO Business Book Summaries click here.

Related book summaries in the BBS library: Purpose, Common Purpose

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In Crisis of Character, Peter Firestein asserts that building a strong corporate reputation that is rooted in core values and is cultivated throughout the organizational structure provides the key to long-term sustainability in today’s business world. Organizations which have clearly defined their core values, and have created practices which support those values, are less likely to fall prey to unethical and illegal practices which lead to scandal and even to business collapse. As a guide, Firestein provides strategies grounded in practical data from leaders and companies to guide leaders in creating organizational cultures which promote ethical and successful business practices.
For a free trial of EBSCO Business Book Summaries click here.

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In the past, an engineer’s primary focus was finding simple and elegant ways of implementing design requirements. Today, however, engineers must also have knowledge of topics beyond the realm of traditional engineering – to succeed, they must possess an understanding of environmental issues, legal issues, and business issues.

In Citizen Engineer, David Douglas and Greg Papadopoulos examine the nature of engineering in today’s world and discuss how engineers are becoming the link between the world of science and society. They explain how product design is affected by environmental and intellectual property considerations, and explore how sustainable products and services can benefit business while also providing career growth for engineers.

For a free trial of EBSCO Business Book Summaries click here.

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News of British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill has reached every corner of the globe. The spill has already far surpassed the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989, in which about 11 million gallons of oil was spilled off the coast of Alaska. Official figures suggest that the Horizon well is releasing around 200,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico every day, and other figures have that number well over 1 million gallons per day. When all is said and done, the Horizon spill will likely become one of the largest oil spills in history.

This story highlights two very important aspects of executive leadership: 1) crisis management and 2) corporate responsibility.

While relatively few CEOs will have to confront a crisis of this magnitude, teaching crisis leadership is still a necessity. Leadership in a crisis can be learned, and it can be appropriately scaled to match the situation.

During a crisis, leaders must:

1. Act Timely. Leaders cannot afford to sit on their hands while the crisis grows unchecked. The longer the crisis continues without intervention, the harder it will be to resolve, and companies do not want to look apathetic.

2. Scale their Response. The response to the crisis must match its size. All personnel required to resolve the crisis should be informed and mobilized immediately. When in doubt, it is better to over commit than under commit resources.

3. Make Amends. After the crisis is under control, leaders must find a way to make amends with those affected by the crisis. This will help companies retain current customers and prevent alienation from potential customers.

It is not enough for a company to resolve a crisis; they must also take responsibility.

BP executive Tony Hayward has put his face on this crisis and has communicated BP’s full responsibility for the cleanup effort. While many people are critical of oil companies in general, Hayward has tried to save face for BP by stating the company would pay for the cleanup effort and plug the leaking well.

By appropriately responding to a crisis and taking responsibility, executive leaders and their companies will have a better chance of maintaining positive public relations, and while many executive leaders may not have to deal with national or global crises, training and preparation will assure a company will not be caught off guard.

Related book summaries in the BBS library: Leading in Times of Crisis, Corporate Reputation, Beyond Good CompanyJust Good Business

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Google has recently decided to relocate its China operations to Hong Kong and has since rerouted online traffic from its censored Chinese language portal (www.google.cn) to an uncensored Hong Kong site. This move has angered the Chinese government and many of its citizens, but has also been hailed by many Chinese as a positive step toward ending online censorship in the country.

Technology has connected the world in a way never seen before in history. Businesses today have to be more aware of global cultures and economies and how to carry out business across borders. While it is extremely important to understand and respect cultural differences between global business professionals, Google’s current situation also brings up the question of values.

Google’s core tenant is “Do no evil.” The company recently decided that continuing to censor its search results in accordance with Chinese government guidelines did not adhere to this tenant. When conducting business globally, its imperative not to lose sight of the company’s core values. News stories surface all the time about companies moving operations to foreign countries because of more lax labor or environmental laws.

Businesses cannot afford to have integrity in their native country alone. When technology has connected the world to such a large extent, it is important for companies and their leaders to adhere to one set of values that will follow them all over the globe.

Whether or not Google’s actions in China were good or bad, they made the right decision by adhering to their values, and I give them credit for that.

Related book summaries in the BBS library: Just Good Business, The Five Literacies of Global Leadership, Leadership Beyond Reason

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