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The seven habits of unsuccessful executives: The link with sustainability

Whatever we call business sustainability: CSR, corporate citizenship, corporate responsibility, etc, could we summarise it in one sentence?

I include in the above list ‘shared value’, ‘ecoability’, ‘*accountatransparency’, ‘ecoethics’ et. al.

(*accountatransparency (C) 2011 ™ Desperate Digital Wavers SocialNewMedia Consultants Ltd 2011. Your statutory rights are not affected. Not that we know what they are)

I wrote clumsily in an earlier post today about how subjectivity really still matters in defining what we mean by an ethical company.

One way to approach corporate ethics in one sentence is this: “Walking in the shoes of others looking at yourself”.

I would not suggest putting this in any public documents.

If you do, it will smack of well, trite corporate-speak.

But as a paradigm to consider business impacts in society, it’s a good one.

It works as a badly worded, faintly preachy reminder that putting yourself in the position of someone else (a stakeholder), looking at your impacts/products is constantly important.

This Forbes article: “The Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives” backs up the point.

It’s by Sydney Finkelstein, the Steven Roth Professor of Management at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. Here are the seven habits as headlines:

Habit # 1: They see themselves and their companies as dominating their environment
Habit #2: They identify so completely with the company that there is no clear boundary between their personal interests and their corporation’s interests
Habit #3: They think they have all the answers
Habit #4: They ruthlessly eliminate anyone who isn’t completely behind them
Habit #5: They are consummate spokespersons, obsessed with the company image
Habit #6: They underestimate obstacles
Habit #7: They stubbornly rely on what worked for them in the past

Does that sounds like anyone you’ve worked for? Perhaps.

Suddenly corporate responsibility as a mirror to your own actions, seen from a different perspective, doesn’t sound quite so silly.

1 Comment

  1. Nicola Robins, Incite Sustainability

    I agree most one-liners end up as badly worded and faintly preachy, though I wouldn't assume multi-stakeholder inputs will always deliver the goods. Particularly the more innovative goods. But you never know I guess.

    My current favourite one-sentence explanations:

    Sustainability is a global movement that is transforming the way we understand value.

    Corporate sustainability is an approach to creating value that sustains or enhances the systems upon which that value depends.

    We've found that most people can work with these as a starting point.