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Are YOU a moral leader?

By Peter Neville Lewis, Jul 1 2019 04:30PM

A significant cross section of business people at all levels in a variety of industries in the US were surveyed about Moral Leadership. These are the key findings:

• 87% agree that moral leadership in business is more urgent than ever.

• 73% think colleagues would be better managers if they relied more on moral than formal authority.

• 72% think their company would be more successful if their leadership showed more moral authority.

• 82% think their company is exposed to risk when their leaders fail to consider the ethical or moral implication of what they intend to do.

43 moral leadership characteristics were surveyed and it was very clear that there was a definite correlation between high-scoring behaviours and better performance.

Importantly this included creating the right conditions for others to flourish. Humanity in the work place has a powerful impact!

However, worryingly, only 7% of managers consistently demonstrated more than 75% of the 43 moral leadership behaviours.

And, this is the terrifying figure, 18%, eg almost 1 in 5, of managers exhibited none of the positive attributes!!

Another black mark: under 30% of CEO’s are perceived to be doing the right thing morally.

The practical fallout from poor behaviour is seen in the following:

• Treating people fairly

• Likelihood of giving orders

• Keeping relevant information to themselves

• Emphasis on profit and short termism

These short comings can also be seen in visible gaps between what is said and what is actually done, leading to an evaporation of trust and a vacuum in moral leadership at senior levels. do you want your organisation to appear?

Care-ful (full of care) or Care-less (lacking in care)?

Which one is more likely to bring long term success?

All people systems need structure to work effectively. Often this is done through formal authority and a top down ethos. It can work but increasingly the stick and carrot approach of yesteryear is not having the desired impact. What people expect is to be listened to and treated with respect.

The best moral leaders are ready always to listen and learn - eg they have higher levels of care and humility which means less arrogance, hubris, greed and carelessness

Titles no longer necessarily confer leadership and in a fluid global world people will go where they best feel valued.

How then do you get people to follow you if compulsion no longer works?

The answer, and it is one that the armed forces learned a long time ago, is through moral authority.

This, by the way, is not moralizing.

It is acting from a set of moral principles and a behavioural framework which allows true values, our moral compass, to govern the decisions we make (and then take), and to influence how we conduct ourselves.

Value and principles determine character and if these are fully lived out the fundamentals of decent and caring behaviour will surely attract others.

The 64K$ question is: How many leaders do you know who actually have these qualities and exhibit them daily?

Pedro the Jester

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Why The Corporate Jester?


Because there is always a need to “call it out”, point out the emperor’s clothes may not be quite so fancy as he thinks (or others are telling him) and boldly say what others dare not!


The role of court jester was well known centuries ago and they had the licence to attack pomposity or stupidity in their betters without fear of retribution. (Well nearly!) Many of Shakespeare’s plays have a fool who is the commentator on human foibles – the most famous probably being in King Lear, the architect of his own downfall through his wilfulness.  Familiar?


May not an ass know when the cart draws the horse?  (Fool – King Lear, Act 1 scene 4)