"Frank's skill in asking the right questions is un-mistakable, and is at the core of his leadership philosophy.

The power of these questions cannot be underestimated, especially if you want to lead and not manage."
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Westhaven Worldwide Logistics

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Archive for the 'Ethics' Category

Customer Bill Charge


So—I am getting charged for being a customer?
Remember the fees for ensuring your privacy, Internet recovery fee, the unlimited “premium”?

If these companies would just be as creative with providing service as they are with inventing new fees!

Monopolies and pseudo monopolies lead to flexibility and innovation only when billing customers.

PS: I should add the negative interest rates.


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Some folks need special approval to wear pink in honor of their loved ones that died of cancer; or display their respect in any other way.

That’s not leadership but micro-management at its worst.

Check the NFL or Hillsborough County FL

PS: My dad is a cancer survivor


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Here’s a leadership dilemma for you.

You are the Director General of the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). Some $225m in revenue for the corporation is generated by a show which is massively popular in the UK and—as the revenue figure suggests—around the world.

One of the reasons for the show’s popularity is that political correctness is set aside for an hour and the presenters say what they like. This is particularly the case with the lead presenter and he has already been given a ‘final warning’ not to cause any more diplomatic or other kind of upsets with his comments.

Then you hear that this presenter lost his temper with a producer on a shoot. After a long day’s filming only cold food was available. This led to the presenter browbeating the producer for half an hour and then punching him in the face. The producer had to go to hospital to be checked over.

You hold an enquiry to understand the facts.

And then your dilemma…

If you sack the presenter you’re waving goodbye to huge domestic and international audiences. The BBC is funded by a license fee from every household with a TV so you won’t do this lightly. The show’s popularity means you’ll have a lot of disaffected viewers.

There’s also a political dynamic. You know that the show’s audience found its tone of voice refreshing given the Corporation’s reputation for political correctness and left-wing bias.

And, finally, there’s the straightforward problem of an assault having occurred in the workplace and whether that should be tolerated.

What was the decision?

Well, the presenter’s contract has been terminated, notwithstanding all the other issues. It was deemed that, already on a final warning, he crossed a line.

My view? I agree with the decision.

Do you?


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When Too Big To Fail Is Too Small

HP made the news this week for selling cloud services to Deutsche Bank.

Anthem made the news for their involuntary sharing of SSN, income data and—one has to assume—health data.

Take a deep breath and read the first paragraph again.

Doesn’t it make you feel uncomfortable to read about those companies that insist on getting more and more personal data to perform even the smallest of service—yet can’t don’t protect anything?

How long until we hear about the even bigger cloud breach?

And if you are too big to fail—how much of your fucking shit is covered up—because those cover ups “leaders” don’t like to stink?


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The 7 Sins

Lust:An intense desire for money, fame and power.
Gluttony:Over-consumption of anything to the point of waste.
Greed:Excessive pursuit of material possessions.
Sloth:A failure to do the things you should be doing.
Wrath:Inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger.
Envy:Desire for the things others have.
Pride:Belief that you are better than others and a failure to acknowledge others’ accomplishments.

The seven deadly sins may date back to 14th century theological teachings and writings… but giving them modern definitions with the help of Wikipedia, I cite them here wondering how many business, religious and political leaders could claim that they were without sin(!).

Self-knowledge is, I believe, a wonderful thing. Any leader who can properly analyze themselves and determine what truly motivates them and informs the decisions they make can improve their leadership skills.

So… consider your current priorities… and audit them against the seven deadly sins. You might want to rethink any that you suspect may be driven by motives other than those in the best interests of your company, your staff and your customers.

Oh… and while on the subject, you might want to visit the seven deadly sins the next time you’re trying to understand the less helpful conduct exhibited by members of your staff or team.

And to try a different tack when trying to move them away from that behavior!


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The Encarta online dictionary defines this as ‘dishonest exploitation of power for personal gain’.

I looked it up because I wanted a precise concept in mind as I read of Transparency International’s ‘Corruption Perceptions Index 2013′, which seeks to measure public sector corruption. To quote from Transparency International’s website:

“The Index scores 177 countries and territories on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). No country has a perfect score and two thirds of countries score below 50.”

They go on to say that:

“The world urgently needs a renewed effort to crack down on money laundering, clean up political finance, pursue the return of stolen assets and build more transparent public institutions.”

Transparency International’s report takes a global ‘macro’ look at the problem of corruption, of course. I find myself considering the issue on a more micro scale.

Consider the definition I began this blog entry with. How many of us have come across leaders or managers who have favored certain employees over others? Most of us I suspect.

Those leaders were/still are corrupt.

And how many of us have come across leaders with one rule for themselves and a different rule for everyone else in terms of expenses claims… or bonuses… or remuneration packages… or nepotism…

Those leaders were/still are corrupt.

It’s about a person’s values and about morality… and unless it’s dealt with at this micro level, then we have no chance at the macro level.

I will close this blog entry with another quote from the Transparency International website:
“Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It hurts everyone who depends on the integrity of people in a position of authority.”

You can see Transparency International’s ‘Corruption Perceptions Index 2013′ at http://www.transparency.org/cpi2013/results external.


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Money, Money, Money!

Here’s some statistics for you courtesy of the World Economic Forum which took place in Switzerland at the beginning of this year.
  • the wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.
  • the bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.
  • seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years
  • in the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.

The Davos report says that wealth concentration on the few can lead to undue and undemocratic influence on government policy making.

In other words, the rich will make sure that statutes are contrived to ensure they remain wealthy.

Some way back on this blog I argued that world population growth was the biggest threat facing humanity. I have to say that income disparity is surely up there as a major issue.

Social and political unrest arise (Ferguson and its aftermath) in no small measure from income disparity… leading to repression, civil wars, international warfare, refugees… and dare I say it, acting as a recruitment sergeant for organizations that readily attract the disaffected.

The threat of Ebola also has its roots in economic unfairness. Companies that control the development of new drugs saw little profit in developing treatments for people in Africa who could not afford them. Now we have a big problem.

Leadership required please… and a massive change in global attitudes to wealth distribution.


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Ethical and Moral Responsibility

I have just been watching online an extract of a speech given by Prince Charles to business leaders in London.

In the speech he says:

“The primary purpose of capitalism should surely be to serve the wider long-term interests and concerns of humanity rather than the other way round. So, critically, it would require the incorporation of environmental externalities. We would have to account properly for carbon dioxide emissions, the use of water and fertilizer, the pollution we produce and the biodiversity we lose. All of these would have to be comprehensively considered in our economic and national decision making because inclusive capitalism cannot be truly inclusive if our dependence on natural capital - what Pavan Sukhdev astutely describes I think as the economic invisibility of nature—is not also included in our calculation of economic worth.”

Prince Charles went on to say that:

“We stand at a pivotal moment in history. Either we continue along a path we seem collectively determined to follow, apparently at the mercy of those who so vociferously and aggressively deny that our current operating model has any effect on dangerously accelerating climate change… which I feel would bring us to our own destruction… or we can choose to act now before it is finally too late, using all of the power and influence that each of you can bring to bear to create an inclusive, sustainable and resilient society. There will of course be hard choices to make—and take it from me—in the short-term, you will not be popular with your peers—but if you stand firm and take the kind of action that is needed I have every confidence the rewards will be immense. Not least you will be able to look in the mirror and say with full confidence that you did everything you could possibly do to create the kind of transformation that would put the true long-term value of both nature and human communities at the heart of future economic and investment models, thus ensuring a social, environmental and commercial return that is truly resilient.”

A few thoughts struck me as I watched Prince Charles speak.

Firstly, all business leaders need to think carefully if their motivation remains simply about the pursuit of profit over and above any other impacts their organizations are having and could have. Because I believe those who remain so traditionally motivated could be heading for a big fall.

Secondly, as Prince Charles points out, those leaders who do choose to adjust their motivation will be brave given the pressure the cultural pressure there is in most organizations to put profit first and foremost above all else.

Thirdly… Prince Charles himself is exhibiting some good leadership qualities. Yes—the British monarchy might be simply titular without any actual power. But he is prepared to put forward opinions which might get him some flak. I like that.

For me every business has an ethical and moral responsibility.
And for you?

Note: Pavan Sukhdev is CEO and founder of environmental consultation firm GIST Advisory.


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