Thursday, January 31, 2013

Executives Learn Ethics the Hard Way: From Marines

Stars and Stripes ran a fascinating article a couple of days ago that I think many readers of The White Rhino Report will find worthy of their time and attention.  The article, "Executives learn ethics the hard way: From Marines" is written by Jim Michaels and originally appeared in USA Today.

The article caught my attention because it describes an innovative program that involves taking business executives out of their element and comfort zone and thrusting them into field training exercises at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia.  Having spent a week at Quantico myself a few summers ago, I was fascinated. to see what these business leaders had experienced and learned.  (See link below for my three Blog pieces about my time at Quantico)

The Quantico Diaries

I am pleased to share an excerpt from Michaels' article, and I encourage you click on the link below to continue reading the full article.

QUANTICO, Va. – Sunlight was filtering through the trees as the team trudged up yet another hill to the final objective of the morning.
The mission was simple. The team was to meet with a local village priest and establish a relationship.
The plan quickly fell apart when the group realized the solemn ceremony they had been invited to was a forced "wedding" in which a bride whose hands were bound by rope was carried screaming into a tent.
Now they were faced with a choice. Protect the woman from possible harm and alienate an important ally or allow the wedding to take place and avoid interfering in a culture they barely understood.
"I was torn," said Elton Mile, a 28-year-old financial adviser with Morgan Stanley, who led the team.
Mile was part of a group of executives who came to the Marine Corps base here as part of a three-day course to learn ethical leadership from combat leaders. In the wake of the Enron debacle, the collapse of Lehman Bros., Bernard Madoff and other moral lapses, business schools are re-examining ethics training. Traditionally, business schools have taught the skills needed to maximize profits, and given short shrift to softer subjects, such as ethics.
Some executives are turning to the military to fill the gap. The military has long drilled values into their young leaders, emphasizing responsibility and accountability.
Apparently it's paid off. Effi Benmelech, an associate professor of finance at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, co-authored a study completed last year that looked at company chief executive officers who had military experience.
The results were stark. "People who served in the military are less likely to be involved in fraud," Benmelech said. The study looked at the top leaders of 1,500 of the largest publicly traded companies from 1980 to 2006.
The study did not address why that was the case, but Benmelech speculates it is a combination of two factors: People who join the military have a strong value system, and the training in the services emphasizes ethics and responsibility.

Executives Learn Ethics the hard way from Marines

1 comment:

Jeanine Browne said...

I can believe the study that showed that CEO's from Military backgrounds were more honest, had self-reflection, and a Conscience. Our conscience is a measure of how truthful we are with ourselves. Once activated, the truth will always remain supreme. Eventually, one cannot live with a lie. In the aware person, a lie cannot co-exist with the truth. It begs the question: What percentage of the businesss, political, community, etc., really tell the truth. I suspect it is very low.
What are the repercussions of that?