Fictional 1980s corporate raider Gordon Gekko famously proclaimed that “Greed is good,” seeking to justify why one of the seven deadly sins is, in fact, ethically virtuous.

Leaders should think deeply about the ethical dimensions of their actions. However, too many fail to recognize the moral complexity inherent in their decisions. As one guest argues, “Just like some people are tone-deaf, and they can’t carry a tune, some are ethics-deaf.”

This is the second part of our two-episode conversation about why it’s so hard to be an ethical leader. Joanne Ciulla, Eugene Soltes, and Ann Tenbrunsel join us again to discuss:

  • Avoiding zero-sum ethical trade-offs
  • The ethics of price gouging and lying
  • Why some people justify their actions even as ethical failures escalate
  • Ethical decision making in an era of advanced technologies
  • Humility and the relationship between ethics and effectiveness

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


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