Let me continue the thread about sustainable business started in the posts “GLOBALLY RESPONSIBLE LEADERSHIP” and “3 IN 1”. This time I offer you to look at integrity – the concept widely discussed in the corporate and non-corporate world nowadays. For instance, it was one of the core topics at the Daimler World Dialogue 2011 organized in October 2011 by the well-known manufacturer of the Mercedes-Benz cars Daimler AG.
So, what is integrity? And why does it receive so much attention? Here is my opinion.
Integrity is one of the essential components of globally responsible leadership. Being consistent in own vision, mission, expectations, goals, values, principles, methods, actions, etc. allows your organization to progress steadily in the desired direction and earns trust from the side of share- and stakeholders and other economic agents. This trust is the foundation of the long-term successful cooperation, which, as has been mentioned, is necessary to address all international and global issues.
Integrity is also related to the holistic, or systemic approach, when, for instance, international business is viewed not only as “sell – buy” relationships between the organization and its clients in different countries, but as a complex system of economic agents, processes, methods, principles, the environment, etc. and interrelations between them. Operating as part of such system requires the previously-mentioned consistency.
Another aspect of integrity in international business is represented in incorporating the socially accepted norms, values, morality, and other elements of ethics into the decision-making and operations of the organization. But, considering the international character of affaires here, the organization should be consistent with ethical principles and norms not of a single country or region, but of a global society. Truly, a huge challenge, but very awarding indeed!
And last, but not least, integrity means not only acting consistently with vision, values, methods, etc., but also providing trustworthy information in a timely and transparent manner. An organization incorporating integrity in its information delivery actions has a consistent and unambiguous image among clients, partners, competitors, policy-makers, and other agents.
Image is taken from here.
Recently I have been asked to state my opinion on what is globally responsible leadership. Below is a brief summary of my understanding of this modern and important concept.
Evolution. The World and each of its elements is constantly in the process of evolution. This goes also for new knowledge, experience, and opportunities, as well as for problems and challenges. The more we know about the World, the more we find out about its complexity and interdependence and the more we realize how fragile these interdependences are. Take greenhouse gases (GHGs) for instance: only relatively recently we have discovered how their emissions from factories, automobiles, etc. are harmful to the environment and human health and how they can alter the global climatic balance. And we do not know even the half of the story!
In order to keep up with this “evolution” and consider the above-mentioned interrelations in our decision-making, strategies, and actions, we have no choice, but to push forward the evolution of such important “change-making tools”, as leadership. Nowadays it is no longer enough to lead your organization to success on the market, for example. Now the leader should consider and take the responsibility for what consequences on economy, society, and the environment his/her decisions and actions will have. This responsibility will make the leader strive for finding and implementing solutions to such global issues and externalities as climate change and integrate them into his/her business and way of living.
However, the majority, if not all global issues, or “bads” are public by their nature (that is, non-excludable and non-rival). This indicates the efforts of a single organization, even very large and international, are not enough to solve these issues in an effective and efficient way. Cooperation is necessary. But such unpleasant things as free-riding by other economic agents pose obstacles to this cooperation and motivation to strive for positive change. Thus, globally responsible leadership means not only acting as an agent of positive change, but also assuming the role of a drive force of bringing together other players on the global arena and leading them to common goals, in spite of all the challenges and obstacles.
So, to make it brief, in my understanding, globally responsible leadership is the way of making decisions and acting on their basis with taking responsibility for their consequences on economy, society, and the environment and contributing to reducing / eliminating negative and increasing positive impacts on the global level through driving forward the cooperation of all necessary agents.
But did you know that the best time to learn about and practice globally responsible leadership is when you are young and full of energy and desire to change the World?
Did you know that there exists a global student organization that is focused on “creating” globally responsible leaders?
Did you know…
Note 1: If you want to learn more about the concept of the globally responsible leadership, a recommendation is to see Quinn L., D’Amato A. (2008): Globally Responsible Leadership: A Leading Edge Conversation, Center for Creative Leadership.
Note 2: Discussion about the globally responsible leadership was inspired by the application to the Daimler World Dialogue 2011.