Ethikos Weekly Editor’s Picks – July 1, 2014


Editor’s Top Choice:

Morning people are less ethical at night 

From Christopher M. Barnes, Brian Gunia, and Sunita Sah of the Harvard Business Review Blog Network:

Employees face many temptations to behave unethically at work. Resisting those temptations requires energy and effort. But the energy that is essential to exert self-control waxes and wanes. And when that energy is low, people are more likely to behave unethically. This opens up the possibility that even within the same day, a given person could be ethical at one point in time and unethical at another point in time.

Over the past few years, management and psychology research has uncovered something interesting: both energy and ethics vary over time. In contrast to the assumption that good people typically do good things, and bad people do bad things, there is mounting evidence that good people can be unethical and bad people can be ethical, depending on the pressures of the moment.  For example, people who didn’t sleep well the previous night can often act unethically, even if they aren’t unethical people. Read more

Other Featured Picks of the Week

Define what you do by the difference you make

Paul Jesep  for AllVoices:

At social functions, especially during business networking opportunities, we have been conditioned to ask, “What do you do?” In many ways, it speaks to our personal ethics and sense of self in a competitive world.

Too often, we’re defined, because we allow it, by societal definitions of success including wealth and education. We’re quick to tell someone about our job as a lawyer or store manager or professional writer. Success, however, is relative. Who we are can be manifested in our car, clothes or jewelry to project a certain image.

There is nothing wrong with making a fashion statement, so long as it doesn’t own you or defines your personhood.

Now and then I give myself a reality check about what I hang in my office. Is the art and opera memorabilia displayed to make an impression, or are they primarily displayed to give me joy and comfort in an unjust world that increasingly puzzles and confuses me as I get older. Read more

10 Forces fueling the values-based leadership movement

Linda Fisher Thonton of Leading in Context, “I believe that values-based leadership is gaining momentum. Recently I was asked to explain why I think so, and I thought I would share my answer in today’s blog post. Here are a number of trends that I see that are working together to fuel the movement toward leading with positive values.

Values-based leadership is gaining momentum, and it’s fueled by a convergence of positive trends.

These forces are coming from various directions and perspectives, all leading toward positive, proactive values-based leadership. See if you recognize any of them, and feel free to comment with your additions to the list.” Read more

Study shows how ethical lapses start small and grow over time

From Cory Weinberg for Bloomberg Businessweek, “Just one small ethical lapse can snowball into big trouble, according to a study released June 25.

The same kind of slippery slope that Bernie Madoff said led to his $18 billion Ponzi scheme can make workers and companies vulnerable to scandal — unless managers snuff out ethical transgressions that may seem minor, write four business school professors in the study.

In what they say is the first empirical study on how unethical decisions compound over time, the researchers tested college students and professionals to see how they responded when they introduced cash incentives for cheating.

In one part of the study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers asked two groups to look at a series of screens, each with two dot-filled triangles, and estimate which had more dots. The sets changed over time so that early on, more dots appeared in the left triangle, and later in the series, more showed up on the right. For one group, that change happened gradually. For the other, the shift was more sudden.” Read more

Being a leader of influence

From Naphtali Hoff, contributing writer for HuffPost’s The Blog, “Leadership is the product of multiple factors, not the least of which is influence. Leaders understand that a primary part of their job is to influence others towards a desired outcome. But how can leaders know the proper way to direct others? How can they be sure that they have set along the correct path, particularly when there appears to be more than one viable way forward? And how will they know that they have arrived at their destination?

One of the most successful approaches to leading others is to lead from a strong set of values. Values are the core components of a person’s deepest beliefs, the concepts that they hold most dear and that drive decision making. When a leader takes the time to identify her deepest values she is likelier to make satisfying choices and remain consistent in her actions and choices. Moreover, if she is effective in articulating her values then others will understand her reasoning and, more often than not, be more inclined to support her process.

Of course, the ideal way to lead is to do so from the rear forward, rather than to drag others along from the front. The more that others feel and a sense of ownership of and connection with the underlying values and related decision making, the more inclined they will be to support the effort and contribute towards its success.” Read more

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