Ethikos Weekly Editor’s Picks – April 22, 2014

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Editor’s Top Choice:

Study: Giving employees more coffee leads to more ethical workplace behavior
From The Consumerist:

There might be something to the saying “my day doesn’t start until my second cup of coffee.” Okay, maybe I’m the only one that says it, but we could all probably use a little more caffeine in the morning. A new study suggests that the stimulant helps keep employees honest. Cue bosses loading the kitchenette cabinets with bags of coffee.

A new study, which was published in the March issue of Journal of applied Psychology, found that two cups of caffeinated coffee can help sleep-deprived workers resist the unethical influence of higher-ups, Fortune Magazine reports.

“When you’re sleep deprived at work, it’s much easier to simply go along with unethical suggestions from your boss because resistance takes effort and you’re already worn down,” David Welsh, co-author of the report and an organizational behavior professor at the University of Washington, says in a news release. “However, we found that caffeine can give sleep-deprived individuals the extra energy needed to resist unethical behavior.”

The professors built their case on earlier research that showed lack of sleep depletes a person’s ability to regulate thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, and in turn, increase unethical acts. Read more


Other Featured Picks of the Week

How literature creates a more moral future CEO

Andy Meek of Fast Company writes, “Joseph Badaracco is a Harvard Business School professor who thinks business school could use a more right-brained approach.

That’s why his students don’t come to class prepared to dive into accounting jargon, org charts or management principles. Instead, Badaracco structures each semester of his class “The Moral Leader” around a set of literary works.

His students aren’t given tests, instead, a 15-page paper determines 40 percent of their grade. The rest comes from participation–from, for example, having something insightful to add to discussions about things like what Sir Thomas More was willing to die for in A Man for all Seasons or why Machiavelli’s The Prince has been referred to as ‘a handbook for thugs.’

The class and the way it’s structured are part of Badaracco’s crusade to balance the left brain side of things with literature that helps his future MBAs learn how to deal with the ethical gray areas, competing interests and multiple points of view they’ll encounter during their careers. The analysis is possible among his students because they’re studying characters whose idiosyncrasies, motivations and inner dialogue are all right there on the page.

Which means that, in Badaracco’s class, the understanding of what makes a good leader starts with searching for truth in works of fiction… Read more


Ethics is contagiousFrom Linda Fisher Thornton of Leading in Context, “I must admit that I can’t take the credit for coming up with the catchy title of this post. A group of attendees at a recent keynote I delivered came up with it as a way to describe what they had learned. And it makes perfect sense.

Ethics is catching, and leaders set the tone for the ethics of the organization. What would happen if everyone in the organization followed our lead? Would the organization be more or less ethical?  What kind of ethics are people catching as they work in our organization?” Read more


Good business: Why placing ethics before profits pays offRoy Jacobs of Gulf Business writes, “Ethics is an admirable quality and a personal goal for many individuals, but does it work for organisations? Does an ethical business need ethical employees or can it managed by a single virtuous whip-cracker? On a stakeholder basis, in the world of multinational conglomerates, would investors rather hold their heads up high or revel in richer dividends? And are they mutually exclusive?

First, we should define ethics. Most dictionaries will include the words ‘right and wrong’ and to a large extent this is justified, but for businesses it is more than a simple black and white.

Not only must a business be ethical in order to conform to society’s standards, it sometimes needs to persuade its own internal society that it has a duty to do the right thing…” Read more


5 Reasons nice-guy leaders actually finish firstBarry Salzberg, Global CEO of Deloitte, writing for Fast Company: “We’ve all read the stories about successful and iconic CEOs with volatile personalities–about leaders who use fear to drive performance, like Mr. Burns in The Simpsons, ruling over the Springfield power plant with an iron fist.

A few of these executives are better known for their bad behavior than their business achievements. And while in some cases their antics may be their downfall, many others go unpunished by their boards and shareholders as long as they’re delivering results.

The theatrics of badly behaved business leaders provide a constant stream of headlines for the media, so you couldn’t blame people for thinking that such aggressive behavior is a routine part of being a successful CEO. Sadly, we seldom read about the many mild-mannered but equally––if not more––effective executives. About those who foster commitment, loyalty, and inspiration. Maybe they’re not as newsworthy, but they’re certainly the ones we should be taking notes from…” Read more


Drones, connected things, and ethicsFrom Charlie Laidlaw of Business 2 Community, “Google has just announced that it is buying a company that manufactures high-altitude solar drones capable of flying for years and designed to beam down wireless signals.

The idea is that the drones will help to connect people in poorer parts of the world and provide a stimulus for economic growth.

It’s where science fiction meets science fact, with enormous implications for all of us, not least in the ways that new data streams are collected, analyzed and stored.

In a way, it’s a marketing dream: a connected and inter-connected world in which big data streams just get bigger, allowing for marketing messages to become ever more precise…” Read more


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