EK4D: Are You CEO Material?

(Crossposted from ~C4Chaos@Zaadz.com)

Below is a quote from Willam Pollard via the book Good Business:

“I
don’t think we’ve encouraged leaders to reflect. I think we’ve
encouraged leaders to do. It starts with the education process. I
mentioned in the book [The Soul of the Firm ]an
experience I had at another public company, where I was on a committee
responsible for interviewing, the next CEO of that company. We were
interviewing at lot of candidates. We Wanted to somehow figure out what
the person’s philosophy of life was, whether they were reflective and
thinking people. And there’s all the kinds of ways you can get at that.
You can ask them what they read or what they don’t read, and so forth.
But we decided to get at it by simply asking this question of every
candidate: How do you determine whether something is right or wrong?
And we got all kinds of different answers. First of all, most of them
thought we were talking about how do you determine whether something
right or wrong in the running of the business. How do you anticipate a
problem, or something like that. So, that was the first response. We
said, “We’re not talking about that. We’re talking about moral issues.”
Why is it right to be truthful? Why was it right twenty years ago to
think that women could only do certain types of jobs and men had to do
every other kind of job? Why was that right? Why is it wrong today? Is
it wrong today because the law says it’s wrong? Or was it fundamentally
wrong and it was just wasn’t recognized? And what are the new issues?
What are the issues in front of us right now that we ought to be
thinking about–what is right and what is wrong in the way we conduct
business, the way we treat people? I could get into the environmental
issues. I could get into all other issues. What’s driving a leader to
anticipate those issues? Can the corporation be a moral community for
the development of people in addition to producing goods and services?
That’s a fundamental question. Well, if it can be a moral community,
then where is the leadership in thinking through the issue of these
standards?”
 


– Good Business – Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning
Good Business : Leadership. Flow, and the Making of Meaning (Hardcover) by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Well, I have no plans of applying for a job as a CEO but I think it’s fun to answer those questions. So here you go….

How do you determine whether something is right or wrong?

Although there are values that we can consider “universal” such as compassion, the golden rule, in general, right or wrong
is fundamentally determined by a person’s moral values and the society
in which these moral values are expressed and observed. So for me,
right or wrong is determined by the intersection of my own moral values and the moral values of the immediate society I belong to.

In rare instances when my own moral values are not in sync with that of
my immediate society, I tend to rely on my own moral values. However, I
always try to expand my moral values by constantly evaluating it with
that of the society (morality of the many), and other philosophy
(morality of a few leading edge). This is how I grow morally.
Consequently, most of the time, my moral values are in sync with the
common good of all. So I think I’m doing well.

Why is it right to be truthful?

Being truthful builds integrity and respect.
It’s right to be truthful because social contracts and interactions
such as business, politics, community, and even at the basic unit of
the society which is the family are all based on integrity and respect.
Trustworthiness not only builds relations but its also good for one’s karma 🙂

Why
was it right twenty years ago to think that women could only do certain
types of jobs and men had to do every other kind of job? Why was that
right? Why is it wrong today? Is it wrong today because the law says
it’s wrong? Or was it fundamentally wrong and it was just wasn’t
recognized?

Twenty years ago it was “right” to think that women could only do certain types of jobs because of a lot of factors namely, religious beliefs, tradition inherited from agrarian and industrial societies,
and due to the recent World Wars. During the agrarian and industrial
stages of societal development (and even going back to the tribal days
and the early days of the Church) most human labors require physical
strength, e.g. tilling the soil, lifting and operating heavy
machineries etc.

Since, in general, physically, men are
stronger than women (and men don’t menstruate and become pregnant and
nourish babies), it’s just logical and practical that men do the heavy
work (work that are mostly available at that time) while the women do
the less strenuous jobs while tending to their children and their
husbands. This practical division of labor were passed down from
generation to generation and were deemed as traditionally as “right.”

However, the techno-economic base
of today’s world doesn’t require much strenuous physical labor (e.g.
financial industry, high-tech, etc.), therefore women have a level
playing field on a lot of available careers as men. Equality laws and
women’s rights laws were established to recognize this societal
evolution and to jettison the old tradition. These laws are now part of
more developed societies (e.g. U.S.). That’s why nowadays it is more
“right” to think that women has equal rights when it comes to career
choices as that of men.

But here’s the rub: If for some reason
these developed societies regress back to industrial and agrarian, then
expect the old tradition to come back, not because men are shovenist
pigs, but because it is only logical for women to revert back to caring
to their children while men do the physically strenuous labors that
most women won’t have the physical capacity to do so. This role-playing
of men and women is driven by the necessity to preserve the human race.

What
are the issues in front of us right now that we ought to be thinking
about–what is right and what is wrong in the way we conduct business,
the way we treat people?

One
of the biggest world issues in front of us today is the inequality of
wealth and resource distribution. In the domain of business this
manifests as a great divide in the inequalities in pay (from CEO to the
lowest rank personnel), unrealistic profit margins, non moral-centric
business laws (e.g. putting profit first before morals).

It’s
also imperative that we encourage the young to take on careers in the
business and technology rather than bombarding them with the illusion
and pastime of the popculture. I strongly agree with Dean Kamen in his assessment on this.

What’s driving a leader to anticipate those issues?

Any business leader who anticipates those issues should have very evolved moral values, level of consciousness, compassion, self-reflectiveness, and a more embracing philosophy.

Can the corporation be a moral community for the development of people in addition to producing goods and services?

The corporation should be a moral community for the development of people. Anything less is not very fluffy 🙂

Well, if it can be a moral community, then where is the leadership in thinking through the issue of these standards?

Corporation
aiming to also become a moral community should have leaders with strong
moral and ethical values. These values should trickle from the
top-down. It is the responsibility of the leaders to set as good
examples since they are the most visible “faces” of the corporation.

So, am I hired? LOL. That is all.