If we are to stay on top, we need more businessmen and women whose leadership style goes beyond the basics. We need a new type of leader who is capable of rising above the traditional standards of ethics and leadership.
Minneapolis, MN (Vocus) March 24, 2010
Bob MacDonald, former CEO of Allianz Life of North America and financial services contrarian, charged today that the U.S. needs to develop a new style of leadership if it is to maintain its position as the world’s leader in business.
Writing for the new web site http://www.ethicalleader.net/blog, MacDonald claims that the new millennium has brought political and economic changes that make true ethical leadership—already a scarce commodity in many businesses—more important that ever.
“Business as usual will be insufficient in this new competitive era,” said MacDonald. “If we are to stay on top, we need more businessmen and women whose leadership style goes beyond the basics. We need a new type of leader who is capable of rising above the traditional standards of ethics and leadership.”
According to MacDonald, true ethical leadership means not just being honest, but going beyond that by doing the right things that are not required to be done. Individuals, leaders, and businesses going above and beyond what is merely “ethical” not only meet but exceed the expectations of customers, employees, vendors, and other stakeholders.
“When a CEO rejects a bonus and instead shares the proceeds among rank and files employees, that is true ethical leadership. When a manager pitches in to work on an assembly line when an emergency arises, that’s ethical leadership. And when top management is open and eternally forthcoming with corporate information and power, that’s true ethical leadership,” MacDonald said.
Even more importantly, said MacDonald, these behaviors are not only exemplary, but they reward the doer with outsized benefits—whether measured in new products, higher salaries, increased productivity, or personal satisfaction—the precise elements we need to keep the U.S. on top. Here’s the problem: Few schools and fewer teachers offer classes in this exemplary kind of ethical leadership—until now.
In order to spread the philosophy of ethical leadership, MacDonald has agreed to be the namesake and contributor to an organization called, Old MacDonald’s Ethical Leadership Farm. In a series of books, training tools and seminars, the group teaches youngsters how to develop these ethical leadership qualities in terms and situations suited to their age and experience.
“When a 10-year-old donates a cluster of balloons he received as a birthday gift to children at a nearby orphanage or when a teenager volunteers her time at a food shelf instead of going to a movie with friends, that’s ethical leadership too. Those are the kinds of values these programs teach,” he said.
Teachers, parents and grandparents who want to start young people down the path to ethical leadership by supporting this program will discover what ethical leaders in business have discovered: ethical leaders move up faster and go further in their careers.
MacDonald concluded: “Leaders who exhibit traits of ethical leadership operate in a constant, consistent, respectful, parallel and open manner. Ethics does not require that they do this, but they do it anyway because they know it enables them to overcome the challenges of today’s business world. When young people learn to make the best ethical decisions at an early age, they will also make those kinds of decisions when they enter business.”
Bob MacDonald was formerly CEO of ITT Life, wholly-owned by The Hartford. He founded LifeUSA, which he sold to Allianz SE in 1999 $540 million and became CEO of Allianz Life of North America. Since 2002 MacDonald has headed CTW Consulting, LLC, a vehicle for offering his experience and unique approach to management and corporate culture development.