Warren Buffett has described integrity as “a reputational advantage that others will weigh in subsequent dealings.” His partner, Charlie Munger, agrees, noting that “You’ll make more money in the end with good ethics than bad.”

So, why are many leaders often tempted to take ethical short-cuts—or worse?

This is the first part of our two-episode conversation in which we explore why it’s so hard to be an ethical leader.

In this episode, Joanne Ciulla, Eugene Soltes, and Ann Tenbrunsel join us to discuss:

  • Why it’s hard to define ethics—and why some people will break their ethical code before they break the law
  • Ethical failures, including blind spots, ethical fading, and language euphemisms
  • How success can impair a leader’s view of ethical behavior
  • Working rules: the difference between formal and informal language, codes, and policies

Joanne Ciulla is a professor at Rutgers Business School and Director of the Institute for Ethical Leadership. A pioneer in the field of leadership ethics, she the author or co-author of numerous books and received a lifetime achievement award last year from the Society for Business Ethics.

Eugene Soltes is an Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, where his research focuses on corporate misconduct and fraud. The author of Why They Do It: Inside the Mind of the White-Collar Criminal, Eugene was the recipient of the Charles M. Williams Award for outstanding teaching.

Ann Tenbrunsel is a professor of Business Ethics in the College of Business Administration at the University of Notre Dame, where she focuses on the psychology of ethical decision making. Ann is the author, co-author, or co-editor of six books on this topic—including Blind Spots: Why We Fail to Do What’s Right and What to Do about It


At SkyBridge, we believe that big challenges can only be addressed successfully by building trust and asking great questions. We are passionate about designing and leading distinctive executive communities, where members identify and discuss powerful questions that shape their organizations, their industries, and their careers.

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