wisdom to win

 Wisdom to Win
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Joseph Badaraccojoseph badaracco


Harvard Business School professor and expert in business ethics (pictured right).


Key books


Defining Moments (1997)


Defining moments are two possible “right-versus-right” decisions:

  • doing one right thing stops you doing something else that’s right.
  • doing right involves doing wrong.

These defining moments lead to “dirty hands” problems  which are conflicts between:

  • personal morals and... 
  • the values demanded by managers, customers and shareholders.


The solutions are:


1.Sleep-test ethics

Deciding a decision’s morality by how well you sleep after it.


2. Character 

Character building from:

  • quiet reflection.
  • being true to your values and responsibilities.


3. Intuition 

Wise intuition comes from good character.


4. Wiggle room 

Interpreting your morals flexibly to balance the tensions between your personal conscience and work.


Key quote on business ethics

Become who you are


Leadership and the Quest for Integrity (1989)

Leaders must:

  • practise values (like integrity, honesty, fairness and courage/determination to do what's right)
  • inspire employees to do the same.

This is values-driven leadership and creates a philosophy that enables leaders to be successful in their other key roles:


1. Political leadership

Getting results from others


2. Directive leadership.

Achieving the organization’s objectives and strategy.


To motivate people and avoid cynicism, the organization must have the same values and aims as each individual employee.


Key quote on business ethics

The ideal organization... is ethical and inspiring.

The power of executive leadership rests not so much on the personality of the individual as on the power of the ideas, purposes and values he or she represents.


Leading Quietly (2002)

Quiet leaders are best who aren’t heroes but act with quiet effectiveness.

They have three virtues:

  • restraint (self-discipline).
  • modesty (about who they are and how much they can do).
  • tenacity (whilst being “flexible, highly pragmatic and often opportunistic”).


Key quote on leadership

The most effective leaders... do what is right – for their organizations, for the people around them, and for themselves – inconspicuously and without casualties.


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