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Integrity - use of values or principles to guide action in the situation at hand.

Below are links and discussion related to the values of freedom, hope, trust, privacy, responsibility, safety, and well-being, within business and government situations arising in the areas of security, privacy, technology, corporate governance, sustainability, and CSR.

The Quiet Leader—and How to Be One, 30.10.06

HBS Working Knowledge
Lagace: You write that one inspiration for your new book was the unusual course you've been teaching for MBA students on moral leadership in organizations. What is a quiet leader? Is quiet leadership a topic you had been thinking about prior to the MBA course?

Badaracco: I don't think I really started thinking about it until just a few years ago. There were two things that prompted me to do so. One is that I had written a book called Defining Moments: When Managers Must Choose Between Right and Right (HBS Press, 1997) which is about big deal, high-stake, traumatic decisions. And there was a natural question: 'Is this all there is to writing about difficult ethical decisions?' Or put differently, what happens in between the big decisions—which don't come along very often? For some people they come along very, very infrequently. Does this mean these people are on vacation the rest of the time?

There's the age-old myth of Icarus trying to fly too close to the sun, and there is the suggestion that there is something dangerous about the pursuit of greatness. And at the same time while you read books and plays—Death of a Salesman is such a clear example, where Willy wants to be a great salesman and he wants his sons to be leaders of men. He pushes so hard he ends up committing suicide, is very disappointed in his kids—there are other characters, I noticed, who were what I came to call quiet leaders.

You also end up defining quiet leaders almost through a series of negatives. They're not making high-stakes decisions. They're often not at the top of organizations. They don't have the spotlight and publicity on them. They think of themselves modestly; they often don't even think of themselves as leaders. But they are acting quietly, effectively, with political astuteness, to basically make things somewhat better, sometimes much better than they would otherwise be.

Sometimes a few people were aware of what they did; sometimes nobody is aware of what they did. There aren't medal ceremonies and often the people involved don't think they would deserve one if the medals were being given out. But often they're people, I found…in the cases I looked at carefully, who find that some situation or problem or difficulty affecting a person, affecting an organization, is really bothering them; it gets under their skin. While other people would say, "Hey, why are you getting carried away about this?", they care about it. They commit themselves and keep working tenaciously, so that over a period of time they find some ways to get stuff done.

If you look behind lots of great heroic leaders, you find them doing lots of quiet, patient work themselves. —Joseph L. Badaracco Jr.

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"We shall need compromises in the days ahead, to be sure. But these will be, or should be, compromises of issues, not principles. We can compromise our political positions, but not ourselves. We can resolve the clash of interests without conceding our ideals. And even the necessity for the right kind of compromise does not eliminate the need for those idealists and reformers who keep our compromises moving ahead, who prevent all political situations from meeting the description supplied by Shaw: "smirched with compromise, rotted with opportunism, mildewed by expedience, stretched out of shape with wirepulling and putrefied with permeation.
Compromise need not mean cowardice. .."

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, "Profiles in Courage"


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