Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy
Showing posts with label Leadership. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Leadership. Show all posts

Thursday, October 19, 2023

10 Things Your Corporate Culture Needs to Get Right

D. Sull and C. Sull
MIT Sloan Management Review
Originally posted 16 September 21

Here are two excerpts:

What distinguishes a good corporate culture from a bad one in the eyes of employees? This is a trickier question than it might appear at first glance. Most leaders agree in principle that culture matters but have widely divergent views about which elements of culture are most important. In an earlier study, we identified more than 60 distinct values that companies listed among their official “core values.” Most often, an organization’s official core values signal top executives’ cultural aspirations, rather than reflecting the elements of corporate culture that matter most to employees.

Which elements of corporate life shape how employees rate culture? To address this question, we analyzed the language workers used to describe their employers. When they complete a Glassdoor review, employees not only rate corporate culture on a 5-point scale, but also describe — in their own words — the pros and cons of working at their organization. The topics they choose to write about reveal which factors are most salient to them, and sentiment analysis reveals how positively (or negatively) they feel about each topic. (Glassdoor reviews are remarkably balanced between positive and negative observations.) By analyzing the relationship between their descriptions and rating of culture, we can start to understand what employees are talking about when they talk about culture.


The following chart summarizes the factors that best predict whether employees love (or loathe) their companies. The bars represent each topic’s relative importance in predicting a company’s culture rating. Whether employees feel respected, for example, is 18 times more powerful as a predictor of a company’s culture rating compared with the average topic. We’ve grouped related factors to tease out broader themes that emerge from our analysis.

Here are the 10 cultural dynamics and my take
  1. Employees feel respected. Employees want to be treated with consideration, courtesy, and dignity. They want their perspectives to be taken seriously and their contributions to be valued.
  2. Employees have supportive leaders. Employees need leaders who will help them to do their best work, respond to their requests, accommodate their individual needs, offer encouragement, and have their backs.
  3. Leaders live core values. Employees need to see that their leaders are committed to the company's core values and that they are willing to walk the talk.
  4. Toxic managers. Toxic managers can create a poisonous work environment and lead to high turnover rates and low productivity.
  5. Unethical behavior. Employees need to have confidence that their colleagues and leaders are acting ethically and honestly.
  6. Employees have good benefits. Employees expect to be compensated fairly and to have access to a good benefits package.
  7. Perks. Perks can be anything from free snacks to on-site childcare to flexible work arrangements. They can help to make the workplace more enjoyable and improve employee morale.
  8. Employees have opportunities for learning and development. Employees want to grow and develop in their careers. They need to have access to training and development opportunities that will help them to reach their full potential.
  9. Job security. Employees need to feel secure in their jobs in order to focus on their work and be productive.
  10. Reorganizations. How employees view reorganizations, including frequency and quality.
The authors argue that these ten elements are essential for creating a corporate culture that is attractive to top talent, drives innovation and productivity, and leads to long-term success.

Additional thoughts

In addition to the ten elements listed above, there are a number of other factors that can contribute to a strong and positive corporate culture. These include:
  • Diversity and inclusion. Employees want to work in a company where they feel respected and valued, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or other factors.
  • Collaboration and teamwork. Employees want to work in a company where they can collaborate with others and achieve common goals.
  • Open communication and feedback. Employees need to feel comfortable communicating with their managers and colleagues, and they need to be open to receiving feedback.
  • Celebration of success. It is important to celebrate successes and recognize employees for their contributions. This helps to create a positive and supportive work environment.
  • By investing in these factors, companies can create a corporate culture that is both attractive to employees and beneficial to the bottom line.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Why Every Leader Needs to Worry About Toxic Culture

D. Sull, W. Cipolli, & C. Brighenti
MIT Sloan Management Review
Originally posted 16 March 22

Here is an excerpt:

The High Costs of a Toxic Culture

By identifying the core elements of a toxic culture, we can synthesize existing research on closely related topics, including discrimination, abusive managers, unethical organizational behavior, workplace injustice, and incivility. This research allows us to tally the full cost of a toxic culture to individuals and organizations. And the toll, in human suffering and financial expenses, is staggering.

A large body of research shows that working in a toxic atmosphere is associated with elevated levels of stress, burnout, and mental health issues. Toxicity also translates into physical illness. When employees experience injustice in the workplace, their odds of suffering a major disease (including coronary disease, asthma, diabetes, and arthritis) increase by 35% to 55%.

In addition to the pain imposed on employees, a toxic culture also imposes costs that flow directly to the organization’s bottom line. When a toxic atmosphere makes workers sick, for example, their employer typically foots the bill. Among U.S. workers with health benefits, two-thirds have their health care expenses paid directly by their employer. By one estimate, toxic workplaces added an incremental $16 billion in employee health care costs in 2008. The figure below summarizes some of the costs of a toxic culture for organizations.

According to a study from the Society for Human Resource Management, 1 in 5 employees left a job at some point in their career because of its toxic culture. That survey, conducted before the pandemic, is consistent with our findings that a toxic culture is the best predictor of a company experiencing higher employee attrition than its industry overall during the first six months of the Great Resignation. Gallup estimates that the cost of replacing an employee who quits can total up to two times their annual salary when all direct and indirect expenses are accounted for.

Companies with a toxic culture will not only lose employees — they’ll also struggle to replace workers who jump ship. Over three-quarters of job seekers research an employer’s culture before applying for a job. In an age of online employee reviews, companies cannot keep their culture problems a secret for long, and a toxic culture, as we showed above, is by far the strongest predictor of a low review on Glassdoor. Having a toxic employer brand makes it harder to attract candidates.

Here is my take:

The article identifies five attributes that have a disproportionate impact on how workers view a toxic culture:
  • Disrespectful
  • Noninclusive
  • Unethical
  • Cutthroat
  • Abusive
Leaders play a pivotal role in shaping and maintaining a positive work culture. They must be aware of the impact of toxic culture and actively work towards building a healthy and supportive environment.

To tackle toxic culture, leaders must first identify the behaviors and practices that contribute to it. Common toxic behaviors include micromanagement, lack of transparency, favoritism, excessive competition, and poor communication. Once the root causes of the problem have been identified, leaders can develop strategies to address them.

The article provides a number of recommendations for leaders to create a positive work culture, including:
  • Setting clear expectations for behavior and holding employees accountable
  • Fostering a culture of trust and respect
  • Promoting diversity and inclusion
  • Providing employees with opportunities for growth and development
  • Creating a work-life balance
  • Leaders who are committed to creating a positive work culture will see the benefits reflected in their team's performance and the organization's bottom line.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

The dark side of generosity: Employees with a reputation for giving are selectively targeted for exploitation

Stanley, M. L., Neck, C. P., & Neck, C. B. (2023). Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 108, 104503.


People endorse generosity as a moral virtue worth exemplifying, and those who acquire reputations for generosity are admired and publicly celebrated. In an organizational context, hiring, retaining, and promoting generous employees can make organizations more appealing to customers, suppliers, and top talent. However, using complementary methods and experimental designs with large samples of full-time managers, we find consistent evidence that managers are inclined to take unfair advantage of employees with reputations for generosity, selectively targeting them for exploitation in ways that likely, and ironically, hamper long-term organizational success. This selective targeting of generous employees for exploitation was statistically explained by a problematic assumption: Since they have reputations for generosity, managers assume that, if they had the opportunity, they would have freely volunteered for their own exploitation. We also investigate a possible solution to the targeting of more generous employees for exploitative practices. Merely asking managers to make a judgment about the ethics of an exploitative request eliminates their propensity to target generous employees over other employees for exploitation.

The article is behind a paywall.

Here is a summary:

The research suggests that organizations should be aware of the potential for managers to exploit employees with a reputation for generosity. They also suggest that organizations should implement policies and procedures to protect employees from exploitation.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the study:
  • Employees with a reputation for generosity are more likely to be targeted for exploitation by managers.
  • Managers are more likely to make exploitative requests of employees who they have a personal relationship with.
  • Organizations should be aware of the potential for managers to exploit employees with a reputation for generosity and implement policies and procedures to protect employees from exploitation.
The study also suggests that there are a number of factors that may contribute to the exploitation of generous employees, including:
  • The manager's perception of the employee's willingness to comply with exploitative requests.
  • The manager's personal relationship with the employee.
  • The organization's culture and policies.
It is important to note that the study did not find that all managers exploit generous employees. However, the study does suggest that it is a phenomenon that organizations should be aware of and take steps to prevent.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Above the law? How motivated moral reasoning shapes evaluations of high performer unethicality

Campbell, E. M., Welsh, D. T., & Wang, W. (2023).
Journal of Applied Psychology.
Advance online publication.


Recent revelations have brought to light the misconduct of high performers across various fields and occupations who were promoted up the organizational ladder rather than punished for their unethical behavior. Drawing on principles of motivated moral reasoning, we investigate how employee performance biases supervisors’ moral judgment of employee unethical behavior and how supervisors’ performance-focus shapes how they account for moral judgments in promotion recommendations. We test our model in three studies: a field study of 587 employees and their 124 supervisors at a Fortune 500 telecom company, an experiment with two samples of working adults, and an experiment that directly varied explanatory mechanisms. Evidence revealed a moral double standard such that supervisors rendered less punitive judgment of the unethical acts of higher performing employees. In turn, supervisors’ bottom-line mentality (i.e., fixation on achieving results) influenced the degree to which they incorporated their punitive judgments into promotability considerations. By revealing the moral leniency afforded to higher performers and the uneven consequences meted out by supervisors, our results carry implications for behavioral ethics research and for organizations seeking to retain and promote their higher performers while also maintaining ethical standards that are applied fairly across employees.

Here is the opening:

Allegations of unethical conduct perpetrated by prominent, high-performing professionals have been exploding across newsfeeds (Zacharek et al., 2017). From customer service employees and their managers (e.g., Wells Fargo fake accounts; Levitt & Schoenberg, 2020), to actors, producers, and politicians (e.g., long-term corruption of Belarus’ president; Simmons, 2020), to reporters and journalists (e.g., the National Broadcasting Company’s alleged cover-up; Farrow, 2019), to engineers and executives (e.g., Volkswagen’s emissions fraud; Vlasic, 2017), the public has been repeatedly shocked by the egregious behaviors committed by individuals recognized as high performers within their respective fields (Bennett, 2017). 

In the wake of such widespread unethical, corrupt, and exploitative behavior, many have wondered how supervisors could have systematically ignored the conduct of high-performing individuals for so long while they ascended organizational ladders. How could such misconduct have resulted in their advancement to leadership roles rather than stalled or derailed the transgressors’ careers?

The story of Carlos Ghosn at Nissan hints at why and when individuals’ unethical behavior (i.e., lying, cheating, and stealing; TreviƱo et al., 2006, 2014) may result in less punitive judgment (i.e., the extent to which observed behavior is morally evaluated as negative, incorrect, or inappropriate). During his 30-year career in the automotive industry, Ghosn differentiated himself as a high performer known for effective cost-cutting, strategic planning, and spearheading change; however, in 2018, he fell from grace over allegations of years of financial malfeasance and embezzlement (Leggett, 2019). When allegations broke, Nissan’s CEO stood firm in his punitive judgment that Ghosn’s behavior “cannot be tolerated by the company” (Kageyama, 2018). Still, many questioned why the executives levied judgment on the misconduct that they had overlooked for years. Tokyo bureau chief of the New York Times, Motoko Rich, reasoned that Ghosn “probably would have continued to get away with it … if the company was continuing to be successful. But it was starting to slow down. There were signs that the magic had gone” (Barbaro, 2019). Similarly, an executive pointed squarely to the relevance of Ghosn’s performance, lamenting: “what [had he] done for us lately?” (Chozick & Rich, 2018). As a high performer, Ghosn’s unethical behavior evaded punitive judgment and career consequences from Nissan executives, but their motivation to leniently judge Ghosn’s behavior seemed to wane with his level of performance. In her reporting, Rich observed: “you can get away with whatever you want as long as you’re successful. And once you’re not so successful anymore, then all that rule-breaking and brashness doesn’t look so attractive and appealing anymore” (Barbaro, 2019).

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Institutional betrayal, institutional courage and the church

Susan Shaw
Baptist News Global
Originally published 26 JUL 22

Betrayal by trusted people, like pastors, teachers, supervisors and coaches can inflict devastating consequences on victims. According to psychologists who study trauma, betrayal trauma affects the brain differently than any other trauma, particularly when the victim depends upon the perpetrator. Betrayal trauma threatens the very sense of self of the victim, who often cannot easily escape because of physical, psychological or spiritual dependence.

Institutional betrayal

When institutions don’t address perpetrators but rather meet survivors with denial, harassment and attack, they engage in institutional betrayal. Institutional betrayal occurs “when an institution causes harm to people who depend on it.”

Betrayal blindness describes ignoring, overlooking, “not-knowing” and forgetting betrayal. People, including victims themselves as well as perpetrators and witnesses, exhibit betrayal blindness to “preserve relationships, institutions and social systems upon which they depend.”

We don’t have to think very long to name a depressing list of instances of institutional betrayal by the church: segregation, clergy sex abuse, conversion therapy, exclusion of women from church leadership and ordained ministry, purity culture, the Magdalene laundries, witch hunts, Indian schools, on and on.

In recent days, we’ve seen institutional betrayal at work in megachurches like Hillsong and Highpoint, where popular pastors engaged in abusive conduct and their churches enabled them. The clergy abuse scandals in the Catholic Church and Southern Baptist Convention are textbook examples of institutional betrayal — institutions that chose to protect themselves rather than address the harm done to members.

Rather than challenging itself to create welcome, repair harm and do justice, the church often has chosen to preserve itself, to overlook harmful behavior by leaders and to demonize and ostracize those who speak out against abuse

Findley Edge, who taught religious education at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote about the process of institutionalization. Edge explained people developed great and exciting ideas, and these ideas lead to innovations and movements. As time goes along, these innovations and movements develop structure to continue to facilitate their growth. Eventually, the first generation that formed the great and exciting idea dies out, and soon people only know the institution and not the idea that sparked it. Their goal then becomes preservation of the institution, not the idea.

Uncritical dedication to the preservation of an institution can easily lead to institutional betrayal, especially when people depend upon organizations like the church, work or family.

Jennifer Freyd, the psychologist who coined “institutional betrayal,” says people protect institutions by participating in what she calls DARVO — Deny, Attack and Reverse Victim and Offender.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Leaders with Multicultural Experiences Communicate and Lead More Effectively, Especially in Multinational Teams

J. G. Lu, R. I. Swaab, A. D. Galinsky
Organization Science
Published Online: 22 Jul 2021


In an era of globalization, it is commonly assumed that multicultural experiences foster leadership effectiveness. However, little research has systematically tested this assumption. We develop a theoretical perspective that articulates how and when multicultural experiences increase leadership effectiveness. We hypothesize that broad multicultural experiences increase individuals’ leadership effectiveness by developing their communication competence. Because communication competence is particularly important for leading teams that are more multinational, we further hypothesize that individuals with broader multicultural experiences are particularly effective when leading more versus less multinational teams. Four studies test our theory using mixed methods (field survey, archival panel, field experiments) and diverse populations (corporate managers, soccer managers, hackathon leaders) in different countries (Australia, Britain, China, America). In Study 1, corporate managers with broader multicultural experiences were rated as more effective leaders, an effect mediated by communication competence. Analyzing a 25-year archival panel of English Premier League soccer managers, Study 2 replicates the positive effect of broad multicultural experiences using a team performance measure of leadership effectiveness. Importantly, this effect was moderated by team national diversity: soccer managers with broader multicultural experiences were particularly effective when leading teams with greater national diversity. Study 3 (digital health hackathon) and Study 4 (COVID-19 policy hackathon) replicate these effects in two field experiments, in which individuals with varying levels of multicultural experiences were randomly assigned to lead hackathon teams that naturally varied in national diversity. Overall, our research suggests that broad multicultural experiences help leaders communicate more competently and lead more effectively, especially when leading multinational teams.

From the Discussion

Practical Implications

Because of the rise of globalization, individuals and organizations increasingly value and invest in multicultural experiences. However, multicultural experiences are expensive. The present research lends support to the common belief that multicultural experiences foster leadership effectiveness (Karabell 2016, Pelos 2017). Notably, our studies consistently found that the breadth (but not the depth) of multicultural experiences predicted leadership effectiveness via communication competence. This finding suggests that organizations should ensure that expatriates are exposed to a broad set of experiences. For example, when structuring international assignments, organizations should consider exposing their employees to a range of foreign postings (e.g., global rotation programs) rather than one lengthy foreign posting (Suutari and Makel ¨ a¨ 2007). Similarly, individuals may consider pursuing multinational educational programs (e.g., global MBA) that allow them to engage with different cultures.

Just as individuals’ multicultural experiences are increasingly prevalent, so are multinational teams. The
present research examined three multinational team contexts with high ecological validity and real-world
consequences. Across these contexts, we provide evidence that multinational teams perform better when
led by leaders with broad multicultural experiences.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Moral Leadership in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

W. Kidd & J. A. Vitriol
Political Psychology
First published: 27 September 2021


Voters commonly revise their political beliefs to align with the political leaders with whom they strongly identify, suggesting voters lack a coherent ideological structure causally prior to their political loyalties. Alternatively, voters may organize their preferences around nonideological concepts or values, such as moral belief. Using a four-wave panel study during the 2016 election, we examine the relationship between voters' own moral foundations and their perceptions of the candidates' moral beliefs. We observed a bidirectional relationship among Republicans, who revised both their own moral beliefs and their perceptions of Donald Trump to reduce incongruities. In contrast, Democrats revised their perceptions of Hillary Clinton to align with their own moral beliefs. Importantly, consistency between voters' and political candidates' moral beliefs was more common among partisans and led to polarized evaluations of the two candidates on Election Day.

From a PsyPost interview:

Trump supporters also appeared to adjust their moral foundations from to align more closely with their perceptions of Trump’s moral foundations. Perceptions of Trump at wave two changed how his supporters perceived their own moral beliefs at wave three. But this pattern was not found among Clinton supporters, who did not adjust their own moral beliefs.

“Political leadership is moral leadership,” the researchers told PsyPost. “Many voters revise even their fundamental views of what they describe as right and wrong based on their perceptions of the candidates they support. Ideas and positions that might have seemed out of bounds can become normalized very quickly if they receive support from political leaders.”

“That voters adjust their ‘perceptions’ of the candidates is also likely a reason partisan conflict often seems so intractable, as voters from each party may not even share a common understanding of the candidates in question, limiting any form of reasoned debate.”

Sunday, December 26, 2021

The Impact of Leader Dominance on Employees’ Zero-Sum Mindset and Helping Behavior

Kakkar, H and Sivanathan, N (2021) 
Journal of Applied Psychology


Leaders strive to encourage helping behaviors among employees, as it positively affects both organizational and team effectiveness. However, the manner in which a leader influences others can unintentionally limit this desired behavior. Drawing on social learning theory, we contend that a leader’s tendency to influence others via dominance could decrease employees’ interpersonal helping. Dominant leaders, who influence others by being assertive and competitive, shape their subordinates’ cognitive schema of success based on zero-sum thinking. Employees with a zero-sum mindset are more likely to believe that they can only make progress at the expense of others. We further propose that this zero-sum mindset results in less interpersonal helping among subordinates. We test our hypotheses by employing different operationalizations of our key variables in eight studies of which four are reported in the manuscript and another four in supplementary information (SI) across a combined sample of 147,780 observations. These studies include a large archival study, experiments with both laboratory and online samples, and a time-lagged field study with employees from 50 different teams. Overall, this research highlights the unintended consequences that dominant leaders have on their followers’ helping behavior by increasing their zero-sum mindset.

From the Discussion

Second, and relatedly, our results uncover the unintentional effects that leaders can have on employees’ cognitions and behaviors. These findings reflect broader observations made by social learning theorists that “job descriptions, rules, and policies are more likely to be interpreted from watching what others do than following written directives” (Davis & Luthans, 1980, p. 284). In this way, our research reveals a more subtle way in which dominant leaders by altering employees’ cognitions of success may reduce helping behavior among team members, which could eventually affect team performance. Given the beneficial effects of employee prosocial behavior on a team’s bottom line, it is entirely possible that dominant leaders may actually want their subordinates to participate in discretionary helping behaviors—in which case, they are inadvertently undermining their own aims by fostering a zero-sum mindset.

Third, the literature on dominance and prestige has typically argued that followers copy, emulate, and look up to leaders associated with prestige rather than dominance. In contrast to this, our findings offer a more nuanced understanding of this point by revealing how dominant leaders can influence employees’ cognitions and how this can trickle down to critical employee behaviors. Thus, subordinates of dominant leaders do engage in emulating their leaders but the process underlying this emulation is cognitive and less intentional.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Moral dilemmas and trust in leaders during a global health crisis

Everett, J.A.C., Colombatto, C., Awad, E. et al. 
Nat Hum Behav (2021). 


Trust in leaders is central to citizen compliance with public policies. One potential determinant of trust is how leaders resolve conflicts between utilitarian and non-utilitarian ethical principles in moral dilemmas. Past research suggests that utilitarian responses to dilemmas can both erode and enhance trust in leaders: sacrificing some people to save many others (‘instrumental harm’) reduces trust, while maximizing the welfare of everyone equally (‘impartial beneficence’) may increase trust. In a multi-site experiment spanning 22 countries on six continents, participants (N = 23,929) completed self-report (N = 17,591) and behavioural (N = 12,638) measures of trust in leaders who endorsed utilitarian or non-utilitarian principles in dilemmas concerning the COVID-19 pandemic. Across both the self-report and behavioural measures, endorsement of instrumental harm decreased trust, while endorsement of impartial beneficence increased trust. These results show how support for different ethical principles can impact trust in leaders, and inform effective public communication during times of global crisis.


The COVID-19 pandemic has raised a number of moral dilemmas that engender conflicts between utilitarian and non-utilitarian ethical principles. Building on past work on utilitarianism and trust, we tested the hypothesis that endorsement of utilitarian solutions to pandemic dilemmas would impact trust in leaders. Specifically, in line with suggestions from previous work and case studies of public communications during the early stages of the pandemic, we predicted that endorsing instrumental harm would decrease trust in leaders, while endorsing impartial beneficence would increase trust.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Does civility pay?

Porath, C. L., & Gerbasi, A. (2015). 
Organizational Dynamics, 44(4), 281–286.


Being nice may bring you friends, but does it help or harm you in your career? After all, research by Timothy Judge and colleagues shows a negative relationship between a person’s agreeableness and income. Research by Amy Cuddy has shown that warm people are perceived to be less competent, which is likely to have negative career implications. People who buck social rules by treating people rudely and getting away with it tend to garner power. If you are civil you may be perceived as weak, and ignored or taken advantage. Being kind or considerate may be hazardous to your self-esteem, goal achievement, influence, career, and income.  Over the last two decades we have studied the costs of incivility–—and the benefits of civility. We’ve polled tens of thousands of workers across industries around the world about how they’re treated on the job and the effects. The costs of incivility are enormous. Organizations and their employees would be much more likely to thrive if employees treated each other respectfully.  Many see civility as an investment and are skeptical about the potential returns. Porath surveyed of hundreds across organizations spanning more than 17 industries and found that a quarter believe that they will be less leader-like, and nearly 40 percent are afraid that they’ll be taken advantage of if they’re nice at work. Nearly half think that is better to flex your muscles to garner power.  In network studies of a biotechnology firm and international MBAs, along with surveys, and experiments, we address whether civility pays. In this article we discuss our findings and propose recommendations for leaders and organizations.



Civility pays. It is a potent behavior you want to master to enhance your influence and effectiveness. It is unique in the sense that it elicits both warmth and competence–—the two characteristics that account for over 90 percent of positive impressions. By being respectful you enhance–—not deter–—career opportunities and effectiveness.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

There Is No Christian Case for Trump

Peter Wehner
The Atlantic
Originally posted 30 Jan 21

Here is an excerpt:

In his article defending the President, Grudem declares that he knows of “no evangelical leader who ‘brushed off’ Trump’s words and behavior.” (He cites his criticism of Trump following the release of the Access Hollywood tape.) But since Trump has been president, the criticisms of his unethical behavior have been either ignored or dramatically minimized by much of the political leadership of the white evangelical world. They would have you believe that Trump is at worst imperfect—just as we all are, they will quickly add—perhaps a little unrefined, coarse, and rough around the edges, but then again, that’s because he’s “authentic,” “politically incorrect,” and a “fighter” who is rightly defending himself against grave injustices and unfair attacks.

Here’s how white evangelical leaders typically talk of Trump. Last year, Ralph Reed, speaking to his Faith and Freedom Coalition supporters, said, “There has never been anyone who has defended us and fought for us, who we have loved more than Donald J. Trump. No one!”

Robert Jeffress, the pastor of a Baptist megachurch in Dallas, described Trump as a “warrior” for Christian values who is “not perfect, just like none of us is perfect.” Indeed, only a week ago Jeffress declared, in another fawning interview with Fox’s Lou Dobbs, “I like [Trump’s] tweets. I like everything about him”—a comment Trump gleefully quoted in a tweet of his own. (During the 2016 campaign, Jeffress said, “I’ve said I want the meanest, toughest SOB I can find to protect this nation. And so that’s why Trump’s tone doesn’t bother me.”)

Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, one of the largest Christian universities in the world, put it this way: “Conservatives & Christians need to stop electing ‘nice guys.’ They might make great Christian leaders but the United States needs street fighters like @realDonaldTrump at every level of government b/c the liberal fascists Dems are playing for keeps & many Repub leaders are a bunch of wimps!” When asked in an interview if there was anything Trump could do that would endanger that support from him or other evangelical leaders, Falwell replied, “No … I can’t imagine him doing anything that’s not good for the country.”

And Grudem himself says of Trump, “Far from being ‘morally lost and confused,’ Trump seems to me to have a strong sense of justice and fair play, and he is (I think rightfully) upset that the impeachment process in the House was anything but just and fair.”


For all my objections to the op-ed by Grudem—who, it’s important to say, is not guilty in his piece of dehumanizing his political opponents—the mind-set it reveals is for me a cautionary tale. I know enough about human nature and about myself to know that confirmation bias is not confined only to those who see the world differently than I do. It’s something that we all struggle with, that I struggle with. I’m struck by how easy it is to see in others, and how difficult it is to see in ourselves. To be sure, confirmation bias is more acute in some than it is in others. Still, we all need help in that effort: to widen the aperture of our understanding, to have our views held up to scrutiny and reason, and to have people with standing in our lives identify our blind spots. Because, to paraphrase the British philosopher and poet Owen Barfield, we should be more interested in truth than victory.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Our Minds Aren’t Equipped for This Kind of Reopening

The Atlantic
Originally published 6 July 20

Here is the conclusion:

At the least, government agencies must promulgate clear, explicit norms and rules to facilitate cooperative choices. Most people congregating in tight spaces are telling themselves a story about why what they are doing is okay. Such stories flourish under confusing or ambivalent norms. People are not irrevocably chaotic decision makers; the level of clarity in human thinking depends on how hard a problem is. I know with certainty whether I’m staying home, but the confidence interval around “I am being careful” is really wide. Concrete guidance makes challenges easier to resolve. If masks work, states and communities should require them unequivocally. Cognitive biases are the reason to mark off six-foot spaces on the supermarket floor or circles in the grass at a park.

For social-distancing shaming to be a valuable public-health tool, average citizens should reserve it for overt defiance of clear official directives—failure to wear a mask when one is required—rather than mere cases of flawed judgment. In the meantime, money and power are located in public and private institutions that have access to public-health experts and the ability to propose specific behavioral norms. The bad judgments that really deserve shaming include the failure to facilitate testing, failure to protect essential workers, failure to release larger numbers of prisoners from facilities that have become COVID-19 hot spots, and failure to create the material conditions that permit strict isolation. America’s half-hearted reopening is a psychological morass, a setup for defeat that will be easy to blame on irresponsible individuals while culpable institutions evade scrutiny.

The info is here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Scathing COVID-19 book from Lancet editor — rushed but useful

Stephen Buranyi
Originally posted 18 June 20

Here is an excerpt:

Horton levels the accusation that US President Donald Trump is committing a “crime against humanity” for defunding the very World Health Organization that is trying to help the United States and others. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in Horton’s view, either lied or committed misconduct in telling the public that the government was well prepared for the pandemic. In fact, the UK government abandoned the world-standard advice to test, trace and isolate in March, with no explanation, then scrambled to ramp up testing in April, but repeatedly failed to meet its own targets, lagging weeks behind the rest of the world. A BBC investigation in April showed that the UK government failed to stockpile neccessary personal protective equipment for years before the crisis, and should have been aware that the National Health Service wasn’t adequately prepared.

Politicians are easy targets, though. Horton goes further, to suggest that although scientists in general have performed admirably, many of those advising the government directly contributed to what he calls “the greatest science policy failure for a generation”.

Again using the United Kingdom as an example, he suggests that researchers were insufficiently informed or understanding of the crisis unfolding in China, and were too insular to speak to Chinese scientists directly. The model for action at times seemed to be influenza, a drastic underestimation of the true threat of the new coronavirus. Worse, as the UK government’s response went off the rails in March, ostensibly independent scientists would “speak with one voice in support of government policy”, keeping up the facade that the country was doing well. In Horton’s view, this is a corruption of science policymaking at every level. Individuals failed in their responsibility to procure the best scientific advice, he contends; and the advisory regime was too close to — and in sync with — the political actors who were making decisions. “Advisors became the public relations wing of a government that had failed its people,” he concludes.

The text is here.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

The Difference Ethical Leadership Can Make in a Pandemic

Caterina Bulgarlla
Originally posted May 2, 2020

Here is an excerpt:

Since the personal costs of social isolation also depend on the behavior of others, the growing clamors to reopen the economy create a twofold risk. On the one hand, a rushed reopening may lead to new contagion; on the other, it may blunt the progress that has already been made toward mitigation. Not only can more people get sick, but many others—especially, lower-risk groups like the young—may start reevaluating whether it makes sense to sacrifice themselves in the absence of a shared strategy toward controlling the spread.

Self-sacrifice becomes less of a hard choice when everybody does his/her part. In the presence of a genuinely shared effort, not only are the costs of isolation more fairly spread, but it’s easier to appreciate that one’s personal interest is aligned with everyone else’s. Furthermore, if people consistently cooperate and shelter-in-place, progress toward mitigation is more likely to unfold in a steady and linear fashion, potentially creating a positive-feedback loop for all to see.

Ultimately, whether people cooperate or not has more to do with how they weigh the costs and benefits of cooperation than the objective value of those costs and benefits. Uncertainty—such as the uncertainty of whether one’s personal sacrifices truly matter—may lead people to view cooperation as a more costly choice, but trust may increase its value. Similarly, if the choice to cooperate is framed in terms of what one can gain—such as in “stay home to avoid getting sick”—rather than in terms of how every contribution is critical for the common good, people may act more selfishly.

For example, some may start pitting the risk of getting sick against the risk of economic loss and choose to risk infection. In contrast, if people are forced to evaluate whether they bear responsibility for the life of others, they may feel compelled to cooperate. When it comes to these types of dilemmas, cooperation is less likely to manifest if the decisions to be made are framed in business terms rather than in ethical ones.

The info is here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

A pandemic plan was in place. Trump abandoned it - and science

Jason Karlawish
Originally posted 17 May 20

Here is an excerpt:

And then on Jan. 21, 2017, Donald Trump became president.

Beginning the morning after his inauguration, a spectacular science-related tragedy has unfolded. The Trump administration has systematically dismantled the executive branch’s science infrastructure and rejected the role of science to inform policy, essentially reversing both Republican and Democrat presidential administrations since World War II, when Vannevar Bush, an engineer, advised Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman.

President Trump’s pursuit of anti-science policy has been so effective that as the first cases of Covid-19 were breaking out in Wuhan, China, no meaningful science policy infrastructure was in place to advise him. As a consequence, America is suffering from a pandemic without a plan. Our responses are ineffectual and inconsistent. We are increasingly divided by misinformation and invidious messaging. And it’s not even over.

Facts will drive scientific decisions, not the other way around

On April 27, 2009, on the eve of his 100th day in office, Obama made a five-block trip from the White House to 2101 Constitution Ave. There, in the Great Hall of the National Academy of Sciences, he spoke about his administration’s commitment to science.

“Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, our health, our environment, and our quality of life than it has ever been before,” he announced. He introduced the members of PCAST and explained how his administration would engage the scientific community directly in the work of public policy.

“I want to be sure that facts are driving scientific decisions — and not the other way around,” the president said. The audience broke into laughter.

Obama explained that his science advisers were already briefing him daily on the emerging threat of swine flu, which some were projecting could kill thousands of Americans.

The info is here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

How a Ship’s Coronavirus Outbreak Became a Moral Crisis for the Military

Navy fires USS Theodore Roosevelt captain over loss of confidence ...Helene Cooper,
Thomas Gibbons-Neff, & Eric Schmitt
The New York Times
Originally posted 6 April 20

Here is an excerpt:

In the close-knit world of the American military, the crisis aboard the Roosevelt — known widely as the “T.R.”— generated widespread criticism from men and women who are usually careful to steer clear of publicly rebuking their peers.

Mr. Modly’s decision to remove Captain Crozier without first conducting an investigation went contrary to the wishes of both the Navy’s top admiral, Michael M. Gilday, the chief of naval operations, and the military’s top officer, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“I am appalled at the content of his address to the crew,” retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, said in a telephone interview, referring to Mr. Modly.

Mr. Modly, Admiral Mullen said, “has become a vehicle for the president. He basically has completely undermined, throughout the T.R. situation, the uniformed leadership of the Navy and the military leadership in general.”

Mr. Modly, Admiral Mullen said, “has become a vehicle for the president. He basically has completely undermined, throughout the T.R. situation, the uniformed leadership of the Navy and the military leadership in general.”

“At its core, this is about an aircraft carrier skipper who sees an imminent threat and is forced to make a decision that risks his career in the act of what he believes to be the safety of the near 5,000 members of his crew,” said Sean O’Keefe, a former Navy secretary under President George Bush. “That is more than enough to justify the Navy leadership rendering the benefit of the doubt to the deployed commander.”

The info is here.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Does Morality Matter? Depends On Your Definition Of Right And Wrong

Hannes Leroy
Originally posted 30 Jan 20

Here is an excerpt:

For our research into morality we reviewed some 300 studies on moral leadership. We discovered that morality is – generally speaking – a good thing for leadership effectiveness but it is also a double-edged sword about which you need to be careful and smart. 

To do this, there are three basic approaches.

First, followers can be inspired by a leader who advocates the highest common good for all and is motivated to contribute to that common good from an expectation of reciprocity (servant leadership; consequentialism).

Second, followers can also be inspired by a leader who advocates the adherence to a set of standards or rules and is motivated to contribute to the clarity and safety this structure imposes for an orderly society (ethical leadership; deontology).

Third and finally, followers can also be inspired by a leader who advocates for moral freedom and corresponding responsibility and is motivated to contribute to this system in the knowledge that others will afford them their own moral autonomy (authentic leadership; virtue ethics).

The info is here.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Zombie Ethics: Don’t Keep These Wrong Ideas About Ethical Leadership Alive

Bruce Weinstein
Originally poste 18 Feb 20

Here is an excerpt:

Zombie Myth #1: There are no right and wrong answers in ethics

A simple thought experiment should permanently dispel this myth. Think about a time when you were disciplined or punished for something you firmly believed was unfair. Perhaps you were accused at work of doing something you didn’t do. Your supervisor Mike warned you not to do it again, even though you had plenty of evidence that you were innocent. Even Mike didn’t fire you, your good reputation has been sullied for no good reason.

Suppose you tell your colleague Janice this story, and she responds, “Well, to you Mike’s response was unfair, but from Mike’s point of view, it was absolutely fair.” What would you say to Janice?

A. “You’re right. There are no right or wrong answers in ethics.”

B. “No, Janice. Mike didn’t have a different point of view. He had a mistaken point of view. There are facts at hand, and Mike refused to consider them.”

Perhaps you believed myth #1 before this incident occurred. Now that you’ve been on the receiving end of a true injustice, you see this myth for what it really is: a zombie idea that needs to go to its grave permanently.

Zombie myth #2: Ethics varies from culture to culture and place to place 

It’s tempting to treat this myth as true. For example, bribery is a widely accepted way to do business in many countries. At a speech I gave to commercial pilots, an audience member said that the high-level executives on a recent flight weren’t allowed disembark until someone “took care of” a customs official. Either they could give him some money under the table and gain entry into the country, or they could leave.

But just because a practice is widely accepted doesn’t mean it is acceptable. That’s why smart businesses prohibit engaging in unfair international business practices, even if it means losing clients.

The info is here.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Business ethics and morality have their limitations, new analysis suggests

Jayne Smith
Originally published 16 Jan 20

Morality has its limitations in the business domain, according to a new analysis of available research by Dr Hannes Leroy from Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) Erasmus University and his co-authors. This is despite the fact that there is a widespread belief that morality and business ethics matter in the way organisations act, although there is also a concomitant belief that there is a general lack of attention to morality in the world of leadership. This appears to be true regardless of industry, firm size, or the status and level of a leader in a company.

The researchers reviewed 300 studies on moral leadership and discovered the pitfalls of morality at work.The study, Taking Stock of Moral Approaches to Leadership: An Integrative Review of Ethical, Authentic, and Servant Leadership was published in the journal Academy of Management Annals.

The info is here.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Taking Stock of Moral Approaches to Leadership: An Integrative Review of Ethical, Authentic, and Servant Leadership

FIGURE 2G. James Lemoine, Chad A. Hartnell,
and Hannes Leroy
Academy of Management AnnalsVol. 13, No. 1
Published Online:16 Jan 2019


Moral forms of leadership such as ethical, authentic, and servant leadership have seen a surge of interest in the 21st century. The proliferation of morally based leadership approaches has resulted in theoretical confusion and empirical overlap that mirror substantive concerns within the larger leadership domain. Our integrative review of this literature reveals connections with moral philosophy that provide a useful framework to better differentiate the specific moral content (i.e., deontology, virtue ethics, and consequentialism) that undergirds ethical, authentic, and servant leadership, respectively. Taken together, this integrative review clarifies points of integration and differentiation among moral approaches to leadership and delineates avenues for future research that promise to build complementary rather than redundant knowledge regarding how moral approaches to leadership inform the broader leadership domain.

From the Conclusion section

Although morality’s usefulness in the leadership domain has often been questioned (e.g., Mumford & Fried, 2014), our comparative review of the three dominant moral approaches (i.e., ethical, authentic, and servant leadership) clearly indicates that moral leadership behaviors positively impact a host of desirable organizationally relevant outcomes. This conclusion counters old critiques that issues of morality in leadership are unimportant (e.g., England & Lee, 1974; Rost, 1991; Thompson, 1956). To the contrary, moral forms of leadership have much potential to explain leadership’s influence in a manner substantially distinct from classical forms of leadership such as task-oriented, relationship-oriented, and change-oriented leadership (DeRue, Nahrgang, Wellman, & Humphrey, 2011; Yukl, Gordon, & Taber, 2002).