The Only Way is Ethics

Last week I had the huge privilege to be invited to attend the first meeting of the “Ethicalbility Community of Practice” and to join the community itself.  The community is made up of those using the ethicability principles to make ethics a fundamental part of organisational structure and culture.

Other guests included representatives of major utilities, financial services and consulting businesses as well as a number of independent consultants who work with these businesses to help them make the cultural shift required to put ethics at the heart of an organisation.

The community has been instigated by Roger Steare as a way of supporting the cultural revolution that is going on in many larger businesses today.  As those of you who have followed my work for a while will know, this is something I have tried before, so I fully understand how hard it is to “sell” the idea of ethics or authenticity to large corporations.   I give huge credit to Roger for making it happen.

And it will happen this time, because this time it is different.  Delivering authenticity or ethics to a room full of senior corporate executives today is a reassuring, inspiring and slightly dissonant experience.  Reassuring and inspiring because you realise how much corporate people ache for the permission to work authentically with their own values, and you realise just how big a difference it will make to the world.  Dissonant, because for so long most corporations seemed to be closed to the whole idea of ethics or authenticity.

We are on the cusp of a revolution in corporate culture that will see businesses leading governments and whole societies in consciousness and behaviours around ethics.  The businesses doing this, are not doing it out of guilt or compassion, but because they know they have to.  They know that their social licence to operate will not be maintained unless they can be seen as a force for good in the world.  However as they move down the path they are also realising an authenticity dividend.

The authenticity dividend is the incalculable energy that is released when thousands of senior, experienced executives become passionate about their work.  It is the energy released when those leaders give permission for their teams to also be authentic at work and it is the energy brought by the highly intelligent graduates who choose that firm over others because they believe in the culture and their ability to be authentic within it.

It is a very exciting time to be doing what I do.  I feel that, along with many others, I have spent too long ahead of this particular curve and am now relishing being on it.

At the risk of putting myself ahead of another curve, I just wanted to give an update on a new area of practice for me, which is that I have started to work with virtual teams.  Training leaders in how to lead virtually and also facilitating both courses and day to day business for virtual teams using private social networking tools.  I would love to hear from others who are interested in this work.

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With love


Neil Crofts
authentic business
+34 646391384
Skype – neilcrofts


About Neil Crofts

Writer, coach and consultant on authentic business and authentic leadership. Neil has inspired and motivated hundreds organisations and thousands of individuals to their highest potential. Neil has written three published books and numerous e-books. Neil is a coach, facilitator and consultant helping people and businesses find their authentic purpose and use it to inspire and motivate them to be everything that they can be. Neil has raced cars, been self-employed, run a company and sold it, been employed by large companies, experienced growth and contraction at the heart of the dotcom boom, tried changing companies from the inside and from the outside as European Head of Strategy at internet consultancy/rock band Razorfish. Neil has been independent for over 10 years and delivered his Authentic Leadership message to a diverse range of business audiences including people at BP, Shell, Microsoft, Kraft Foods, MSN, Jamie Oliver, South Gloucestershire Council, National Blood Transfusion Service, KaosPilots Business School, Fashion company By Malene Birger, German technology company Eleven.
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One Response to The Only Way is Ethics

  1. Putting ethics at the heart of an organisation’s culture is an important step in demonstrating “modern-thinking” for any organisation, and it is hugely encouraging to hear of the progress you are making here, Neil. I can imagine that this is not straightforward process – not least from the perspective of different views of what is ethical. I don’t doubt that it is thoroughly refreshing to see the effect of it all coming together when everyone is aligned in their beliefs, and you see that tremendous release of energy. I really like this.

    From a practical perspective, how easy is it to get everyone to agree on what is ethical? Google’s “Don’t be evil” message is simple, and something which we can all identify with – after all, who would want to be deliberately evil? But it does’t take much digging to uncover people who believe that Google *are* being evil, by the way they do what they do. And I could think of other large corporates who might have similar issues. It seems straightforward, and easy to agree – but then it gets tricky the more you delve. So I wonder how easy it is to identify that authenticity dividend?

    On the subject of virtual teams, I wholeheartedly agree. I have spent the past decade working with, and in virtual teams. It feels fantastic. It feels as though all the geographical, interpersonal, technical and timezone barriers have been overcome. It feels as though you really can work with the absolute best – because you are not confined to working within the confines of what is “convenient”. With the technology available today, it really is possible to work effectively in a virtual team – and it is not prohibitively expensive or complex. But it is surprising how few organisations do this.

    One of the reasons I have come across is fear. Some managers fear that by enabling virtual teamworking, they will lose their status of “king of the castle”. They want to be seen as head of their particular empire, and a smaller empire is easier to be head of. They completely forget about the results they should be delivering, and fail to recognise that they are imposing a limit on the success they can create. Only the inspired will take the view that “we can’t do all this ourselves – we need more expertise – let’s work virtually to increase our capability – let’s overcome the hurdles and be the best”.

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