Handbook on Responsible Leadership and Governance in Global Business
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Handbook on Responsible Leadership and Governance in Global Business

Edited by Jonathan P. Doh and Stephen A. Stumpf

Ethics, social responsibility, leadership, governance. These terms are heard in the classroom, in the boardroom, and viewed on the front page of newspapers and magazines. Yet serious attention to the relationships among these concepts is lacking. Although commitments to leadership, ethics, and social responsibility are evident, individuals and companies are falling short in combining these duties into policies and cultures that guide behavior and decisions. The missing element is a broad-based and integrated approach to responsible leadership and governance. This volume provides the leading thinking on these issues and includes a discussion of emerging areas that require future attention.
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Chapter 8: Foundations of Responsible Leadership: From Self-Insight to Integrity and Altruism

John Alexander and Meena Wilson


John Alexander and Meena Wilson Introduction Ethical scandals in major corporations and other important institutions in the United States in the early 2000s dominated media headlines and triggered rounds of finger pointing, mixed with soul searching. Much of the debate surrounding these high-profile misdeeds concentrated on macro solutions such as greater regulation and increased oversight from government, courts and corporate boards. Significantly less emphasis has been placed on the roles and the responsibilities of individual leaders in today’s ethically challenging corporate environment. But when the last courtroom verdict from these episodes has been handed down and the last regulatory reform enacted, leaders will still face, on a daily basis, difficult and complex ethical dilemmas. The same opportunities to make decisions for good or ill will exist. New laws and regulations, while necessary, will not eliminate the problem. The cure for this disease, we believe, begins within the individual and stems from personal integrity. Integrity, at its core, is the kind of honesty that leads to trustworthiness. A person of integrity tells what he or she believes to be the truth and bases his or her actions on a well-defined sense of right and wrong, always seeking to do the right thing. It is behaving in a manner that, in dictionary terms, exhibits ‘moral excellence’ (The Oxford Dictionary of Current English, 1998, p. 460). Integrity is one of those basic qualities whose presence or absence helps us define a person’s character. For responsible leadership, we believe...

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