Interview: Bob Dignen
What does ethics mean to you?
Ethics for me is standing in front of the mirror shaving and asking myself: “Am I doing the right thing?” The big question is how much you reflect on ethics. Very few people consciously act in a bad way. Most people are just driven by circumstancesUmständecircumstances, by their bosses, their KPI (key performance indicator)LeistungskennzahlKPIs, their ambitions. And they choose not to reflect on things very much, particularly on the behaviour of others. For example, why is that person doing this or that to me? It can’t be because they are a bad person. The reason must be something else. And this is itself an ethical position: not to assume evil or bad intentions in other people.
Lukas Stricker is a senior consultant at Argo & Partner in Zurich. He helps clients to deliver digital innovation in their businesses, to ensure sth.etw. sicherstellenensuring that people and organizations are ready for the new ways of working that come with new technologies.
In which situations as a leader have you felt your personal ethics most tested?
Firing people is one of those moments. And one of the things I had to learn was not to to hesitatezögernhesitate too long before doing it. Because if you do, it’s not good for you, it’s not good for the person and it’s not good for the company. I think you must accept the fact that it will hurt you as well. And then when you fire somebody, they’ll accept it because they’ll see that it is not because you don’t care or you went the easy way.
How ethical does modern corporateUnternehmens-corporate life seem to you?
I doubt that businesses were more ethical 100 years ago. In the end, there are so many stakeholderInteressengruppe, -vertreter(in)stakeholders in any business context, so many demands, competing interests and ethical perspectives — for example, ecological considerations, fair wages, making enough profit to invest and survive, respecting the needs of communities and so on. It’s complex, with a lot of moral greynesshier: Zwischentönegreyness.
So, are people’s expectations of ethical leadership unrealistic?
Yes, sometimes they are. For me, one basic principle of ethics is about balance. The degree of freedom you want to have must be balanced with the degree of responsibility you are willing to take on. And if you have high ethical expectations towards your employer, then the flip side (ifml.)Kehrseiteflip side is that your behaviour towards the company must be equally ethical. Looking back at my former job, I didn’t give enough. I didn’t fully to appreciate sth.etw. zu schätzen wisseappreciate the things I had from my company and from the people I reported to.
Don’t surround yourself with people who are like you, or people who like you. Have people around you who make your life difficult
What about happiness? Is that the ultimate goal of ethics? Is it the job of a leader to make people happy?
I never made that a goal. What I want to do is to enable people to be at their best. Does that make a person happy all the time? I’m not sure. People need to be challenged by a good leader and to be stretched out of their comfort zone. People are sometimes not happy with that. So, in the end, it’s complex. It’s vitalentscheidendvital to ask all these questions about the ethics of an action, a situation or a way of working — but don’t expect easy answers.
Finally, what one piece of advice around leadership and ethics would you give to someone entering global corporate life?
Stay reflective, which is a trickyschwierigtricky thing these days, because of this mania to be busy. And secondly, don’t surround yourself with people who are like you, or people who like you. Have people around you who make your life difficult, who don’t agree with you, who challenge your definition of right and wrong.