"New dawn" wavering on societal trust issues

by Thobile Madonsela | Published on 25 May 2018 for The Ethics Institute monthly newsletter

When Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in as the new president, the country was awash with so-called “Ramaphoria”: feelings of hope, optimism and relief. Even the rand traded stronger on the back of the surge of confidence. It certainly did feel like a new beginning – a “new dawn”, as it was coined – when the country would see progress and the eradication of societal woes. Fast-forward to this side of his first 100 days in office, and it seems that the euphoria has deteriorated significantly. Why?

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How do we help politicians remain their best selves?

by Kris Dobie | Published on 25 April 2018 for The Ethics Institute monthly newsletter

While we are right to appeal to politicians’ moral conscience to have the best interests of the public at heart, we also need to design systems to help them achieve that. We might like to paint politicians as people who are totally in command of their actions, and so are either good or bad, but the truth is that they are human, with human vulnerabilities. We therefore need to develop systems that put pressure on them to be their best selves, rather than pressure to be their worst. 

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Corporate arrogance: is there an antidote?

by Prof Leon van Vuuren | Published on 26 March 2018 for The Ethics Institute monthly newsletter, along with a press release version

Many corporates have accumulated vast wealth over the last century or so. Ideally, those companies should be distributing their wealth responsibly, in the form of shareholder dividends, employee compensation, new product development and corporate social investment. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

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Credibility: the leader's currency

by Liezl Groenewald | Published on 26 February 2018 for The Ethics Institute monthly newsletter, along with a press release version

On 15 February 2018, the day Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in as President of the Republic of South Africa, a new era dawned in the country. This new era promises hope to many citizens, workers, school children, university students, investors, and organisations of all kinds. We have seen many “new dawns” in our history, so what makes this one special? Why are we all so hopeful?

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Ethical leadership is essential, but not enough

by Prof Deon Rossouw | Published on 25 January 2018 for The Ethics Institute monthly newsletter, along with a press release version

The need for ethical leadership is now much clearer and urgent than it has ever been since the dawn of the new South Africa. Unfortunately, it took massive corruption – in which both state-owned entities and the private sector burned their fingers and reputations – to elevate the importance of ethical leadership.

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Why organisations need to have ethics disaster management plans

by Prof Leon van VuurenPublished on 25 October 2017 for The Ethics Institute monthly newsletter, along with a press release version

Recently, several prominent and previously reputable organisations have experienced ethical failure. These include Volkswagen, Ford, KPMG, McKinsey, SAP in the private sector, and state-owned companies like Eskom, Transnet, Denel, SAA and others who are implicated in state capture. Irrespective of how such organisations are impacted financially – for example, loss in share price and decreased market capitalisation – there are also widening circles of financial and psychological damage to stakeholders. 

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A nation starved of justice

by Kris Dobie | Published on 26 September 2017 for The Ethics Institute monthly newsletter, along with a press release

South Africans are angry. And South Africans are hungry for justice. As a society, we have had to endure a significant amount of frustration at the lack of accountability from a clearly corrupt cabal of individuals who have plundered state resources for their own ends for several years.

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Restoring Trust Beyond State Capture

by Prof Deon Rossouw | Published on 25 August 2017 for The Ethics Institute monthly newsletter, along with a press release version on 28 August 2017

Ethics is a precondition for safe, just, and prosperous societies. This truism has been proven with the current siege of South Africa by state capture. If ethics is not embedded in society and in organisations, the inevitable result is a breakdown of prosperity, justice and safety. We saw this happening to South Africa under Apartheid, and we are seeing it now again with state capture.

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"Get the ethics right, and you will always be compliant"

by Liezl Groenewald | Published on 25 July 2017 for The Ethics Institute monthly newsletter

Companies the world over often struggle to balance ethics and compliance. Those that are regulated often see compliance as pre-eminent. Yet many have come to recognise that to build a positive corporate culture it is important to establish the right mindset. That mindset, which should be based on an ethical framework of corporate values to guide decisions and behaviours, will be encouraged by the creation of a separate ethics function and will lead to better compliance as a result.

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Thoughts on Peace Building

Liezl Groenewald recently attended the 7th Annual Conference of the International Society for Military Ethics in Europe (EuroISME).  The theme of the conference ‘Restraint in War: Essential for a Just Peace?’ lent itself to interesting discussions about the relation between restrained behaviour on the battlefield and ius post bellum (conduct after war)

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Leadership Derailment

In the last few articles, we discussed “toxic leadership” (also referred to as destructive leadership) and presented their characteristics, as well as the characteristics of their followers and colluders.  However, toxic leaders are relatively rare. It is estimated that approximately 3 to 5% of the general population have psychopathic/sociopathic tendencies. Even fewer of these individuals are high-functioning enough to enter positions of power and survive political processes in organisations. More often, destructive leadership is confused with psychopathy/sociopathy. In fact, all leaders have destructive tendencies to some extent and often these tendencies are not related to sociopathy/psychopathy, but rather, to general personality characteristics.

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Toxic Leadership: Protecting the Organisation from Toxic Leaders and Colluders

In the article entitled “What are the characteristics that define toxic leadership” we speculated about the nature of Zuma and whether he fits the mould of a toxic leader. In light of recent developments, it becomes hard not to admit that Zuma has the characteristics of a toxic leader of which the defining characteristic is the damage he has done to the South African economy (toxic leaders tend to harm over the long-term).

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