When to Zip Your Lip, Leading with Presence. By John Baldoni

Posted by John Baldoni

By John Baldoni

Has this ever happened to you? You visit your physician for an annual checkup and he notes that your weight is up, then talks about how much he is exercising and how much less he weighs than you. Or, you come off a bad relationship and your physician says that he, too, is single and dating can be tough on people of a certain age.

Both examples are true and were reported as part of a study on physician self-disclosure published in the Archives of Internal Medicine; its findings were also reported in the New York Times. In the first instance, the doctor is playing one-upmanship; in the second, he may be getting a bit too personal. Both instances underscore a central fact: a physician's personal disclosure does not build, and may even hinder, patient rapport.

It is not only physicians who wrestle with this issue; anyone who works with people in a development capacity, be it an executive coach or a manager, faces a similar dilemma. Counselors and therapists are trained to establish barriers with their clients, but managers are not. This may be why some managers reveal nothing of themselves and end up coming across as cold fish, while other, overly voluble managers may reveal so much about their personal lives that they actually drive people away.

If you work with others, what do you disclose? There may be no textbook answer, but comfort levels for those who reveal as well as for those who receive must be established. Here are some guidelines:

1. Be discreet. Some people will tell you about their marital history at the drop of a hat; others will not even reveal that they are married. For some, talking about family is an ice-breaker; for others, it's a turnoff. Read people before you reveal yourself. You will pick up cues from their own conversation. If they focus solely on work, roll with it. If they like to mix in facts about family, friends, and whatever, either follow their lead or draw your own boundaries.

2. Reveal for learning. Reveal information about yourself that casts light on what you have learned. For example, it is appropriate for seasoned managers to reveal mistakes they have made at work in an attempt to help an employee understand that most mistakes are not career-enders. Talk about what you learned from the mistake and how it enabled you to meet subsequent challenges.

3. Avoid "alpha dog" behavior. Avoid revealing information about yourself that makes you look superior. For example, if an employee is struggling with a problem, there is no need to chime in about how you've tackled tougher problems, but then offer no assistance. That behavior is a put down that emphasizes how good you think you are and how inferior you perceive others to be. It turns people off as well as away from your management. What's more, no one likes a braggart!

On the other hand, we like to see some personality from our senior leaders. Senior leaders who talk to folks on the factory floor or in line at the cafeteria become popular figures within the company. Communing with the ranks helps to build trust and create followership, both vital attributes in running an enterprise larger than two people.

Bottom line, when personal revelations become too personal, or are used to pull rank or put another person down, they do more harm than good. Such behaviors reinforce domination over others, and when you are trying to establish trust, the heavy hand does little to get people to commit to your vision, mission, and values. But a little small talk never hurt anyone.


Gina Kolata, "Study Says Chatty Doctors Forget Patients," New York Times, June 26, 2007.

Susan H. McDaniel et al, "Physician Self-Disclosure in Primary Care Visits: Enough about You, What about Me?" Archives of Internal Medicine, 2007, 167, 12, June 25, 1321-1326.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June Issue 2009, Volume 5, Issue 2). Copyright © 2012 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.

Coaching the C-Suite in Times of Crises, By Professor Errol P. Mendes

Catastrophe hit one of the most respected companies in the U.S. on September 30, 1982. Tampered capsules of Extra Strength Tylenol had caused the deaths of three individuals from cyanide poisoning in the Chicago area. Then four more people died from the tampered Tylenol produced and marketed by Johnson and Johnson, which was the leading over-the-counter pain medication at the time. It was also the most profitable pain medication for the company and contributed approximately 15 percent of the company's revenues.1

When notified of the Tylenol-related deaths, the corporate leaders had little information to go on. They did not know if the seven deaths were just the start of many more. This would depend on how widespread the tampering had been throughout the U.S. They did not even know whether the tampering had been done during the production of the pain-reliever, in the distribution systems or in the stores just in the Chicago area. As a precaution, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had issued a nationwide warning about the use of the pain-reliever, but had not asked Johnson and Johnson to do a recall or order all sales to be ceased.

What the corporate leaders at Johnson and Johnson did know was that there was a "cost-benefit" case to do as little as possible as a recall would result in lost production, destruction of existing stock of 31 million bottles of the medication and other losses amounting to over $US100 million, with little chance of insurance covering the tampering effects and a potential loss of the 37 percent of market share for the drug. The corporate leaders at Johnson and Johnson did know that whatever they did the news of the tampering would affect some of the company's hard-won market share and could result in a sizeable drop in the value of the company's shares, which it did almost by 15 percent amounting to approximately $US1.24 billion.

The corporate leaders at Johnson and Johnson with alacrity dispensed with a cost-benefit analysis to avoid a recall. They had plenty of precedents to follow from corporations from the U.S. and around the world.

For example, one could point to the Ford Motor company's behavior regarding the exploding Ford Pinto in the late 1960s and early 1970s that, in whole or in part, caused the deaths of several owners of the car. These deaths involved the explosion of Ford Pintos due to a defective fuel system design. It is alleged that Ford used a cost-benefit analysis, including assigning a value to the lives of various categories of potential victims in its decision not to upgrade the fuel system based on this analysis. This cost-benefit approach to dealing with corporate crises is often termed the utilitarian approach.

Ford had the ability to retool its assembly lines and improve the fuel system to lessen the chances of explosions from rear-end collisions, but chose not to do so because it would have cost $US11 per car. Company analysis had shown that such an improvement would have resulted in approximately 180 fewer burn deaths (others had estimated approximately 500 deaths), 180 fewer serious burn injuries and 2,100 less destroyed cars potentially along with their occupants. The company then assigned (based on a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimate, a product of pressure from the automobile industry) an average value of $US200,000 to each death, $US67,000 to each serious burn injury and $US700 per automobile. Ford then used these cost estimates to decide that since the total cost of potential liability damages of $US49.5 million was less than the redesign costs of $US137 million, it would not redesign the exploding Pinto fuel system. When the slew of liability suits went to civil trials in the U.S., it became obvious that juries in these trials would not buy the cost/benefit analysis of Ford and were prepared to issue multi-million dollar verdicts. Ford eventually settled and hoped that its defense in this notorious case of corporate violation of human dignity would remain sealed in court documents.2 Some have surfaced.3

More recently we have seen examples of a major drug company like Pfizer refusing to countenance any plans to pull its highly profitable and popular painkiller Celebrex off the market, despite data showing that patients using the drug in a long-term cancer study had more than double the risk of heart attacks.

In contrast, the corporate leaders at Johnson and Johnson ordered a recall of all Tylenol containers and their contents. The corporate leaders stated they were unwilling to risk the lives of any further individuals no matter how small or widespread the tampering actually was. The corporate leaders at the company also decided not to put the medication back on the shelves until the company had developed tamper-proof production of the medication and its bottles. For that, the company rightfully has earned longstanding praise for ethical corporate leadership. Within five months of doing the right thing in the Tylenol crisis, the company had recovered 70 percent of its market share for the medication and the overall brand and reputation of the company itself skyrocketed over the succeeding years right up to the present.

The Johnson and Johnson response and the contrasting behavior at Ford and Pfizer present case studies for coaching the C-suite on ethical decision making in times of crisis.

The C-suite at Johnson and Johnson based their actions on the company's mission statement written in the mid-1940s by Robert Weed Johnson. It stated that the company‘s responsibilities were to the consumers and medical professionals using its products, employees, the communities where its people work and live, and its stockholders. Following this mission statement meant that public safety came above all else.

What lessons can coaches of the C-suite draw from the Tylenol crisis? Scholars in moral philosophy and ethics could postulate that the C-suite in Johnson and Johnson followed either expressly or intuitively universal ethics principles proposed by one of the main architects of Western moral philosophy and ethics, Immanuel Kant. Taking his approach to ethics in his seminal work4 titled Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant would have coached the C-suite in companies dealing with a crisis such as the Tylenol tampering that their decisions and conduct should be the basis of a "universal law" for all other moral actors in similar situations. Taking this approach to the Tylenol tampering, the leaders at Johnson and Johnson may well have thought that if it is wrong for any company to endanger the lives of consumers with mass marketing of a contaminated or defective product, no matter how profitable it may be to do so, then it is wrong for Johnson and Johnson to do so.

The "universal law" of Kantian ethics would also advocate that the "categorical imperative" of moral action is not treating human beings as means to an end, but as an end in themselves. This is the core of the content of the concept of "human dignity." Human beings have an intrinsic value beyond any cost-benefit analysis. There can never be a moral cost-benefit analysis that allows corporate leaders and their corporations to unjustly exploit or endanger employees, customers and local communities exclusively as means to corporate profit or in the case of the Ford situation as a means to save expending resources to remedy a defective product or not risking corporate profits and reputation by recalling a potentially dangerous product. In the latter situation there is a contrast between the behavior of corporate leaders at Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer.

One wonders whether the corporate leaders at Ford had personal moral misgivings about refusing to upgrade the fuel system of the Ford Pinto, thus violating a Kantian universal law on defective products, yet the cost-benefit or utilitarian analysis forced them into not doing the necessary upgrade.

One major downside of coaches advising the C-suite on taking the Kantian approach to moral actions in times of crisis is that it focuses too much on the motivation for individual or collective action and not at all on the consequences of such action. The opponents of Kantian moral reasoning in the C-suite would expressly or intuitively prefer a consequentialist or utilitarian basis for their worldview. The main architects of this analysis of moral conduct were John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham.5 The simplest form of their thesis argues that consequences that produce the greatest good for the greatest number are the only way to judge the morality of human actions. One could argue that Johnson and Johnson could also have followed a more humane utilitarian approach in the Tylenol crisis and arrived at the same decision to recall the medication. In this moral framework, the company would consider not only the greatest good for Johnson and Johnson, but also the protection of the potentially very large numbers of actual or potential users of the medication if the tampering had been widespread and possibly the even larger numbers of the public whose family members or close relations may have been affected. Certainly a cost-benefit analysis under this more utilitarian approach demands a recall, while at the same time preserving the human dignity of those who could suffer from not ordering a recall.

But what if police authorities had managed to find the individual who had effected the tampering and coerced (another area where Kantian ethics and utilitarian ethics would do combat) a confession that only a dozen bottles had been tampered, but the person who had done the tampering and the distributor of the medication had no idea where those bottles were now on sale to the public? Some, but not all, applications of utilitarian analysis of moral action would support the refusal to order a recall as the good done by the medication to millions of users outweighs the grave harm done to the potential users of the dozen tampered bottles of Tylenol. One can only wonder if Pfizer adopted this utilitarian approach in refusing to take Celebrex off the market.

If decisions of the C-suite rest on this basic utilitarian approach to moral conduct with such potential grave consequences for the few that are sacrificed for the good of the many, then it violates the basic notions of human dignity that have been espoused by leading moral philosophers of Western civilization such as Immanuel Kant. However, a more humane form of utilitarian ethics could in many circumstances arrive at the same ethical outcome as discussed above.

The ultimate task of corporate leaders in times of crises according to, both the Kantian and the more humane utilitarian approach, is to utilize their power to promote and protect the human dignity and the greatest good of all those who are involved or affected by their operations if at all possible. I suggest that the main goal of coaching ethics in the C-suite is to demonstrate that the exercise of corporate power in times of crises is really only ethically responsible when it takes into account both the human dignity and the greatest good, if at all possible, of all those affected by its operations.

1 For details of this paradigm example of swift corporate moral and ethical action see the following: http://harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvard.edu/b02/en/common/item_detail.jhtml?id=583043 and http://www.mallenbaker.net/csr/CSRfiles/crisis02.html (accessed February 10, 2008)

2 See the Mother Jones article on the exploding Pinto case that caused an outcry in the U.S. at http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/1977/09/dowie.html (accessed July 21, 2007)

3 See the Ford calculation memo on value of lives versus an $US11 per car cost at http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/1977/09/death.html (accessed February 10, 2008)

4 Zweig, Arnulf, trans. Hill, Thomas E. Jr., and Arnulf Zweig, eds. 2002. Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

5 A variation of utilitarian thinking that could have a greater moral content is rule-utilitarianism. This variation advocates first ascertaining the best rule or rules of particular conduct. This is achieved by ascertaining the consequences of following one or more particular rules. The rule that produces the best consequence is therefore the best rule that should be followed. Proponents of rule-utilitarianism included John Austin in The Providence of Jurisprudence, (1892) and John Stuart Mill in Utilitarianism.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June 2008, Volume 4, Issue 2). Copyright © 2011 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.

Demonstrating Integrity: A Key Characteristic of the Future Global Leader, By Marshall Goldsmith

Posted by Marshall Goldsmith

At a time when shredding documents, creative accounting and ruthless tactics come to light in the media on a fairly regular basis, it's no surprise that the young leaders of today have spotted the need for leaders to demonstrate integrity and ethical behavior. As a matter of fact, young leaders of today believe that demonstrating integrity will become the most important characteristic of future leaders.1

What Is Integrity?
"Integrity is the quality of possessing and adhering to high moral principles or professional standards."2 In other words, it's not enough to simply espouse values; global leaders have the added responsibility of influencing through example.

Indeed, events in the business arena involving companies such as Enron and WorldCom have illustrated how integrity lapses can lead even "benchmark companies" into bankruptcy. These unfortunate negative public examples of integrity violations have clearly made the business case for including integrity as a key quality of the leader of the future.

Demonstrating Integrity
The next question you will probably have is: How do I (or do I already) demonstrate integrity? Following are five significant characteristics of demonstrating integrity as well as some (but not all!) actions you can take to demonstrate integrity.3

One characteristic that demonstrates integrity is to behave honestly and practice ethical behavior in your interactions. You can accomplish this by:

  • Recognizing that you are a model for those whom you lead
  • Being consistent and clear about your ethical standards
  • Providing facts, not smokescreens
  • Speaking up even when it may be risky to do so
  • Challenging any system that encourages dishonesty or rewards unethical behavior


A second characteristic that demonstrates integrity is to ensure that the highest standards for ethical behavior are practiced throughout the organization. You can do this by:

  • Being consistent and clear about ethical standards and expectations
  • Encouraging people to express concerns about questionable practices
  • Reviewing ethical concerns with your staff or management
  • Offering open, candid feedback to management and coworkers
  • Recognizing that honesty and fairness in all relations with others is important


A third characteristic that demonstrates integrity is to avoid political and self-serving behavior. You can demonstrate this by:

  • Understanding that being competent in your job is the most effective method of achieving success
  • Realizing that organizational politics take many forms; list the tactics you are aware of
  • Sharing recognition; not accepting undue credit
  • Being a team player
  • Combating job politics through objective measurements of performance


A fourth characteristic that demonstrates integrity is to courageously stand up for what you believe in. You can do this by:


  • Understanding that risk taking plays a part in nearly every decision made
  • Being willing to take risks to achieve excellence and stay competitive
  • Developing a positive attitude when facing objections
  • Working to gain support and cooperation from key individuals in your organization
  • Encouraging and supporting others to speak up and voice their viewpoints


The fifth characteristic that demonstrates integrity is to be a role model for living the organization's values. You can accomplish this by:

  • Walking the talk: be an example of what you want your employees to be
  • Being sure your performance reflects the best standards
  • Acknowledging the unique knowledge and talents of others
  • Demonstrating pride in your company
  • Coaching employees to follow your example of performing to high standards


People will not follow leaders whom they do not trust. Great leaders, trusted leaders demonstrate integrity and in doing so, achieve the faith and confidence of their workers, colleagues and peers, who then become willing followers, loyal employees and trusted coworkers. This important characteristic is an integral step on the road to success for the great leaders of the future.
1 Goldsmith, M., et al. 2003. Global Leadership: The Next Generation. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. (See pages 311-316 for more about the Global Leader of the Future Project.)
2 Encarta Dictionary [computer software]. 2008. Redmond, WA: Microsoft
3 Goldsmith, M., et al. 2003. Global Leadership: The Next Generation. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June Issue 2008, Volume 4, Issue 2). Copyright © 2011 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.

Power, Responsibility, and Wisdom: Exploring the Issues at the Core of Ethical Decision Making and Leadership.

Posted by WABC

By Dr. Bruce Lloyd 1

The objective is simple: Better decision making. The only issue is that there are so many different views on what we mean by "better." At the core of all decision making is the need to balance power with responsibility as the vehicle for resolving the ‘better' question. This article explores why that is so difficult. It also argues that exploring the concept of wisdom can provide invaluable insights into how to achieve the most effective balance between power and responsibility, which is central to what our values mean in practice, as well as about how we incorporate ethics into our decision making.

Wise decision making, inevitably, involves moral/ethical choices. It is not surprising that comments we might define as wisdom are essentially comments about the relationship between people, or their relationship with society and the universe as a whole. These statements are generally globally recognized as relatively timeless and are insights that help us provide meaning to the world about us. Yet how often do they seem to be almost totally ignored in futurist, strategy, knowledge management, coaching, and even ethics literature? We appear to spend more and more time focused on learning knowledge, or facts—which have a relatively short shelf life-and less and less time on knowledge that overlaps with wisdom, which has a long shelf life. Why is that? What can we do about it?

Western sociological and management/leadership literature is full of references to power. How to get it? How to keep it? And how to prevent it being taken away? In parallel, but rarely in the same studies, there is also an enormous amount of literature on the concept of responsibility.

While power is the ability to make things happen, responsibility is driven by attempting to answer the question: In whose interest is the power being used? Yet the two concepts of power and responsibility are simply different sides of the same coin; they are the yin and yang of our behavior; they are how we balance our relations with ourselves with the interests of others, which is at the core of what we mean by our values. Power makes things happen, but it is the exercise of an appropriate balance between power and responsibility that helps ensure that as many ‘good' things happen as possible.

Leadership is nothing more than the well-informed, responsible use of power. The more that leadership-related decisions are responsibility-driven (i.e., the more they are genuinely concerned with the wider interest), not only will they be better informed decisions, but the results are much more likely to genuinely reflect the long-term interests of all concerned, which also happens to be a sound foundation for improving their ethical quality and sustainability.

In essence, the above leadership definition is exactly what could also be called ‘Wise Leadership.' In this context, the concepts of leader, leading, and leadership are used interchangeably, although it could be argued that ‘leaders' are individuals (including their intentions, beliefs, assumptions, etc.), while ‘leading' entails their actions in relation to others, and ‘leadership' is the whole system of individual and social relationships that result in efforts to create change/progress. However, the above definition can be used to cover the integrated interrelationship of those three dimensions.

Briefly, wisdom can be considered as: "Making the best use of knowledge...by exercising good judgment...the capacity to realize what is of value in life for oneself and others...." Or as "the end point of a process that encompasses the idea of making sound judgments in the face of uncertainty."2

Of course, wisdom is one thing and ‘being wise' is quite another. Being wise is certainly more than the ability to recycle wisdom. In essence, ‘being wise' involves the ability to apply wisdom effectively in practice.

Wisdom is by far the most sustainable dimension of the information/knowledge industry. But is it teachable? It is learned somehow, and as far as I know, there is no values/wisdom gene. Consequently, there are things that we can all do to help manage the learning processes more effectively, although detailed consideration of these are outside the scope of this article.

In the end, the quality of our decisions depends on the quality of our conversations/dialogue; not only dialogue about information but, perhaps even more important, about the best way to use that information. In other words, it is about how our values influence the decision-making process. Dialogue both facilitates the transfer of technical knowledge and is an invaluable part of personal development. Having a quality dialogue about values is not only the most important issue we need to address, but it is often the most difficult.

We need to recognize that the more change that is going on in society, the more important it is that we make sure that our learning is as effective as possible. That is the only way we have any chance of being able to equate change with progress. If we want to have a better future, the first—and most important—thing that we have to do is improve the quality and effectiveness of our learning.

In recent years we have seen considerable effort to move people from the idea of 'working harder' to 'working smarter.' But what is really needed is to move beyond 'working smarter' to 'working wiser.' We need to move from being the ‘Knowledge Society' to the ‘Wise Society.' And, the more we move along that progression, the more we need to recognize that we are moving to a situation where the important issues primarily reflect the quality of our values rather than the quantity of our physical effort. If we want to improve the quality of our decision making, the focus needs not only to be on the quality of our information but, even more importantly, on the ‘right' use of that information; hence the importance of improving the dialogue-related issues mentioned earlier.

Why are we interested in ethics and the future? The answer is, simply, that we are concerned with trying to make the world a ‘better' place. But for whom? And how? To answer both questions we need to re-ask fundamental questions: Why do we not spend more time to ensure that the important messages that we have learned in the past ('wisdom') can be passed on to future generations? How do we ensure these messages are learned more effectively? These are critical strategy questions, and lie at the very foundation of anything we might want to call the ‘Knowledge Economy,' although what is really needed is to focus on trying to move toward a concept closer to the ‘Wise Economy.' This focus naturally overlaps with the greater attention now being given to values and ethical-related issues and ‘the search for meaning' in management/leadership literature.

Overall, wisdom is a very practical body of sustainable knowledge (/information) that has an incredibly useful contribution to our understanding of our world. Such an approach would enable us all to make ‘better' (wiser) decisions, lead ‘better' lives, and experience wiser leadership, particularly in areas that involve (either explicit or implicit) ethics- and values-related issues. This is also closely linked to establishing more appropriate relationships between power and responsibility.

If we cannot take wisdom seriously, we will pay a very high price for this neglect. We need to foster greater respect for other people, particularly those who have views or reflect values that we do not agree with. This requires us to develop our capacity to have constructive conversations about the issues that divide us; that, in itself, would go a long way toward ensuring that we improve the quality of our decision making for the benefit of all in the long term. So help us move toward a ‘Wiser Society.'

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (February Issue 2009, Volume 5, Issue 2). Copyright © 2012 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

1 A longer version of this article can be found in Integral Leadership Review, 2008, Vol. VIII, No. 5, October.

2 www.collectivewisdominitiative.org/files_people/Lloyd_Bruce.htm
Dr. Bruce LloydDr Bruce Lloyd is Emeritus Professor of Strategic Management at London South Bank University.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.