Pilant's Business Ethics

Business Ethics Blog

Tag: leadership

Listen to the “Morality” of Laissez-faire.

Listen to the “Morality” of Laissez-faire.

The English government during the Irish Famine of 1845 – 1852 adhered strictly to a doctrine of Laissez-faire. I want you to listen to the cold blooded ramblings of a government in thrall to a cruel, vicious and irrational policy concept. This is where economic philosophy confronted tragedy and compounded it.

Watch the clip and see if you can avoid recoiling in horror at the voices of the decision makers mindlessly repeating the necessity of letting the market have its way.

James Pilant


When Ireland Starved Episode 3 Managing The Famine (Part 1 of 3) – YouTube

When Ireland Starved Episode 3 Managing The Famine (Part 1 of 3) – YouTube


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Nassir Ghaemi: Linking effective leadership and mental illness (via Minding the Workplace)

Abraham Lincoln with Allan Pinkerton and Major...

Abraham Lincoln with Allan Pinkerton and Major General John Alexander McClernand at the Battle of Antietam. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nassir Ghaemi Links Mental Illness to Success

This is different. Very different.

Mental illness as an advantage?

I find that difficult to believe on many levels but the article is persuasive.

Are mental problems really an adaption to difficulties. If the strategy is successful, maybe its not crazy but a successful adaption.

Maybe, someone smart enough to adapt in so strange a fashion has superior powers of creation and those have application in other fields?

I don’t know.

See what you think?

James Pilant

Sane ideas from Tufts psychiatry prof: Linking effective leadership and mental illness When Nassir Ghaemi, a professor of psychiatry at Tufts Medical Center, studied prominent figures of the American Civil War, he discovered that many of the greatest leaders during the war (e.g., Abraham Lincoln and Union general Ulysses Grant) were mentally abnormal or mentally ill, while many … Read More

via Minding the Workplace

From the web site, Struggling with the Elephant in the Room:

The first creative leader identified with full symptoms of bipolar disorder is General Sherman of the American Civil War. Sherman is the man credited for revolutionizing warfare from the Napoleonic style of en masse warfare to total warfare, where civilian infrastructure is targeted. It set the stage for warfare that would rule the 20th century and is credited for its extensive role in ending the American Civil War. Sherman displayed everything from failure due to mania in his previous life before taking over as General in the war where he failed to hold down any sort of job and constantly moved; while also appearing to have severe depression, even psychosis. He constantly paced, had intense energy levels, and also had his depressions that threatened his life and terrified his closest friends. But through the mania, he became creative and saw a new form of warfare that could end the war. It was risky, he cut off his supply chain, marched toward Atlanta with no back up. He was considered mad for taking such a risk, but it is this riskiness that led him to carry out a plan that defined a new breed of warfare.

From the web site, What We Blog About When We Blog About Love:

A First-Rate Madness ranges across the 19th and 20th century (with a quick toe dip in the 21st) to identify historical figures (all men, it turns out) whom Ghaemi believes illustrate this inverse law. Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, FDR, JFK, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., are all examples of leaders with mental illness — usually depression, but also mania or other disorders. Ghaemi’s examples of sane leaders (he defines them as “homoclites”) are less numerous and more ambiguous: he contrasts Neville Chamberlain with Churchill, then lumps Richard Nixon, Tony Blair and George W. Bush into one chapter at the very end of the book. (If there is one thing Richard Nixon was not, it was a mentally stable individual.)

And finally, from the web site, Bipolar Today, Life at the Poles:

I have a slight twinge of concern, however. The moods that come from bipolar disorder are pathological. They can’t be counted on and, though positive in themselves, are a part of an illness that overall causes a great deal of suffering (something that Dr. Jamison notes as well). It’s also important to note that most poets, for example, are not mentally ill. My concern with a book like this is that it separates off mentally ill people from people without mental illness, giving mentally ill people almost special powers. While the creativity that comes from hypomania and the realism that comes from depression are both good traits, we would still be better off if we had those traits in a non-pathological way.


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Power and Authority (via Business Management)

Power and Authority (via Business Management)

Here we have a discourse on authority, a rare and precious gem. Few understand it. Most who believe they have it don’t. Those that understand it seldom explain. Can you tell if the author knows his subject or not?

Here’s a paragraph –

French and Raven identified five bases of power as: legitimate, referent, expert, reward and coercive. Legitimate power is authority. For example, police has legitimate power. Referent power arises from personal authority. It can be someone whom you like and want to follow (e.g your role model). When someone has expert power, that means this person has knowledge which others respect. Reward and Coercive power is the classic definition of carrot and stick. It means the person who holds the power to reward or punish has this type of power.

James Pilant

Power means “the ability to influence people”. For example, if you have the ability to persuade your friends to move in the same direction as you do, then you have the power. Authority is the “official power”. For example if you are assigned to a manager position where your subordinates are obliged to follow your orders then you have the authority. Military officers have the authority. French and Raven identified five bases of power as: legitimat … Read More


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Responsible leadership: “move beyond the smell, sleep and newspaper test.” (via Thefutureleadershipinitiative)

There are hundreds, thousands of posts on business ethics. Only a few are thoughtful and only a very few directly deal with the philosophy of business. This is one of those.

I was very impressed. If you have any interest in business ethics philosophically, this is the best writing on the subject I have seen in many weeks.

James Pilant

“Aligning self-interest to social responsibility is the most powerful way to sustaining a company’s success,” says Starbucks’ CEO Orin Smith. A larger notion of responsibility is moving to the centre of business leadership in the 21st Century. We’re moving away from the Milton Friedman adagio “live up to the law and maximize shareholder wealth”.  Why is that? When is leadership truly responsible? And how to lead responsibly? Thomas Maak and Nicol … Read More

via Thefutureleadershipinitiative

Ethics Roundup 2-20-11

Picture by Greg Kendall Ball

The Crane and Matten Blog have a wonderful article up. It’s called Baron-zu-Googleberg. And it’s a morality tale. I’d go read this one just for the sheer fun of it.

From the post –

One of the funnier incidents in cypberspace is the facebook page on this (‘If Guttenberg has a Doctor, I want one too!’) or the new keyboard designed for PhDs a la Guttenberg – with all keys removed except the ‘c’ut and ‘v’-paste ones…

From Ethics Blog, a reflection on leadership

We are most likely not heads of state, but we are all to some degree leaders. Can we be both feared and loved? I think it is possible. As parents we try to find the delicate balance between authority and love. Such balance can also sometimes be found in the military. We read and hear of stories about commanders who were both feared (court martial is always a possibility if one does not obey orders) and yet loved by their men who sometimes would even risk their lives for their leaders.

There is a new Chuck Gallager blog post and it is fascinating. Apparently, he had a blog post which another person had issues with (I want you to read the post for all the play by plays.). So he published his old post with the new comments entered into the appropriate places. It is a very ethical and intelligent way to handle the subject (and more than a little time consuming). I’m impressed.

David Yamada in his blog, Minding the Workplace has a great deal to say about the ongoing events in Wisconsin –

Governor Walker’s attack on human rights is unlike anything I’ve seen in the U.S. during my adult lifetime. He is using the state’s budget woes as a pretext to justify denying workers the right to bargain over their compensation and benefits. Hard bargaining at the negotiation table in the midst of tough economic times is one thing, but moving to deny workers a collective voice is pure thuggery.

Washington’s Blog has a truly fascinating post – Don’t Let Wisconsin Divide Us … Conservatives and Liberals Agree about the Important Things.

In fact, most Americans – conservatives and liberals – are fed up with both of the mainstream republican and democratic parties, because it has become obvious that both parties serve Wall Street and the military-industrial complex at the expense of most Americans.


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