Ethics independent study fellowship– learning from Gusties about leading with integrity

Posted on April 15th, 2014 by

What a fantastic day with Ellen Krueger ’14 and Gustie alumni (and friends– thanks Becky!) last Friday. Ellen is my ethics fellow this semester, trying out an intensive one-on-one model of learning about ethics, and more importantly, how she can navigate any organizational setting with confidence that she will do her best to do what’s right. In the field of business ethics, there is really no greater conversation than how we can help nascent managers make ethical decisions they can live with, and do what’s right for their organizations. In my own research following my former MBAs through many years of their initial careers, one of the biggest takeaways is that we business educators are not doing enough to help new managers prepare for the ethical dilemmas they are sure to face. When I have asked these managers, all of whom are in the initial or mid-level stages of their careers, what we can do better to help them be more effective leaders from an ethics perspective, they tell me to take what I am calling the “inoculation approach:” give them a real taste of what dilemmas are like, what they can expect to have happen, so they can think about it beforehand. How would they react if REALLY faced with this issue? What are the tradeoffs? What are potentially creative solutions? We must change the way we approach ethics education.

And, that is exactly what we got last Friday, speaking with leaders in business and law. They shared so much of their own experiences. From a president of a family firm perspective (Beth), to a Human Resources perspective (Becky), to a legal perspective (Marshall)– I could not write their insights down fast enough. Ellen prepared great questions: when faced with an ethical dilemma, what are the best ways to resolve it? How can we best balance the need to be ethical with the need for business to be competitive? What specific kinds of dilemmas should we be prepared to face?

I am so thankful for the chance to have accompanied Ellen to Sparboe offices with Beth and Becky, and to lunch with Marshall in the West End.


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