Teaching Future Business Leaders



when you think about business education in education of future management leaders business leaders or any kind of professional and you try and talk about ethics we do often tend to focus on basically the cognitive question you know here are some challenges you're going to face and we want you to recognize them you know build awareness and we want to teach you how to think through them in a rigorous and consistent and appropriate way so that's teaching analysis but we really do give people the opportunity to to practice and focus on action how do you enact to them so the first thing I would do is I think it really is important to do the awareness building to do the teaching people how to analyze and think consistently ambiguous ly but also to give them the chance to build action plans create scripts engage in peer coaching and rehearsal and practice so that it becomes a skill that you're teaching in a confidence that you're instilling as well as simply intellectual capacity so that's one piece but the other piece is that I find that and it and it comes from a good place I think but I find that our entire our process when we tend to raise ethical challenges in education is often to present things as false dichotomies is the way I like to put it you know you either you either are going to be financially successful or you're gonna care about the environment you know you're either gonna be financially successful or you're gonna treat your employees respectfully in generously or whatever it is now of course everybody tries to say no good business good ethics equals good business and I think it often does but we all know organizations that don't necessarily operate in the most ethical or considerate or sustainable ways and also managed to financially be successful at least in the short term and there are companies who could try and be very ethical but if they're poorly managed they can fail so so just being ethical is not a sure guarantee nor of success nor is just being unethical a sure guarantee of failure and so I think it's more a question of how can we do these things so instead of setting these things up as false dichotomies as I call them I think the question has to be one more of how so instead of saying you know we're going to build the the manufacturing facility that limits our emissions or we're going to be able to operate in a cost-effective manner the question becomes how can we reduce our emissions and in fact still be financially viable so we I think we need to reframe those questions I think the questions we ask are to limited its we're not trusting our students and we're not trusting our business leaders to be as creative as they really are you know instead where we're saying you know you've got a choice you can you can succeed or you can be good and I think that what we really it's not enough to simply say oh if you're good you'll succeed that's too easy it's really about how do you do it effectively and so when I think about how management education can really you know be enhanced I think it is focusing on that question and getting back to your idea about exemplars sharing examples of people who found very creative ways to do that I think frame it as innovation frame it as creativity frame it as entrepreneurial entrepreneurial you know don't frame values and ethics as a whole bunch of thou shalt nots business students and business leaders are not motivated by constraints on their action they're motivated because they want to build businesses they want to be successful they want to build enterprises they want to make money and so you know if you if you present everything as a constraint on action it's not very empowering instead ask them to use all that creativity and all that ambition to think about effective ways to achieve the goals that we're talking about whether they're ethics whether they're sustainability whether they're respectful workplaces and being you know financially viable

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