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Sep14
Ethical Leadership Required in a World of Rapid Innovation

I recently attended an event sponsored by the the Orange County Management Society affiliated with BYU. It was a the organizationss annual Community ServiceKimBClark.jpg Awards Dinner and honored BYU Idaho President Kim B. Clark.

President Clark is the former Dean of the Faculty at the Harvard Business School and is clearly a leader as well.

The focus President Clark’s remarks were focused on his perception that the business world is in dire need of ethical leaders.

He apologized in advance for jumping right into material that included substantial economic data and research. President Clark used this data to explain “modularity” and to illustrate the rapid change and market disruption that has occurred as a result of technological innovation. He explained that “modularity” is the unbundling of production of computer technology and that it has created an engine of progress that is unparalleled in history. All good news right?

He cautioned however, that with such speedy advances of progress, technology has eclipsed the controls and governance that was established in simpler times and therefore has outstripped regulator’s to create and enhance rules, laws, regulations and restrictions in markets where technology is prevalent - practically every market.

President Clark suggested that the rapid increase in technology has disrupted markets. Such disruption has significantly reduced transactions costs. President Clark then drew the conclusion that such conditions have “created an opportunity for mischief” and that with out-of-date controls, a gray area has evolved and yet there are virtually no regulatory or economic costs to prevent business people from going and living in this gray area.

He suggested that the logic of the market has become “if it is profitable, it is good.”  As an example, he wondered what revenue could be generated for Harvard Business School, if it sold its last admissions spot on eBay. He answered his own question that despite an opportunity for profit on this transaction, it would not serve the institution and its commitment to education.

President Clark called for a need for leaders – not just at the top but throughout and organization. He stated that leaders need integrity and that integrity is character.  He defined character as matching “what you say” to “what you do.” He expressed his fervent belief that the need for leadership is one of the most important issues facing society and the continuation of stable markets.

He made a call for leaders to do what is right, not what is merely profitable. He suggested that in a world where regulations and laws cannot keep pace with technology, leaders and their standards of honesty and integrity are our only hope.

He encouraged all in attendance to be a “living standard of integrity and personal accountability” and “to educate and teach others.” He concluded by entreating everyone to set their heart on being a person of integrity that others will trust and assured that if that if a person will make a personal commitment to that objective, business success will follow.

Kim B. Clark is the current President of BYU Idaho and the former Dean of the Faculty at the Harvard Business School from 1995 to 2005.  A member of the Harvard faculty since 1978, Professor Clark received the B.A. (1974), M.A. (1977), and Ph.D. (1978) degrees in economics from Harvard University

 


6 Comments/Trackbacks




Hal, I so agree with what you say here. As I read about how mortgages were bundled for the profit of a few on the backs of low to middle class citizens, I wonder where the leadership was that let these greedy folks get such an upper hand. I sense it is similar to evolving of Technology "gray areas."

Greed and ethics are on opposite polarities as you point out so well. I'm glad for high profile people like Kim B. Clark who speak out on this. And thanks for sharing in this arena.

Ethics needs to be at the core or you begin to see a society disintegrate.

Robyn,thanks for being a loyal reader and more importantly, a contributor to leadernotes. Leaders that have standards grounded in right and wrong are in demand as technology changes markets and the rules that define them.

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Without Ethics and integrity our world will sink. This is so important in ALL aspects of business and everyday living, and I try to educate people in my industry, the world of debt collection, as much as possible.

Consumers have the perception that bill collectors are not leaders, do not have ethics, or integrity and are beating up consumers in any way they can to pull money from them.

This is not always the case and it is an uphill battle to change that perception. Thank you for this post Hal!

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