Moral DNA

Moral DNA

As survey after survey has shown – too many people do not trust leaders and managers! The succession of scandals over the last few years such as mis-sold debt, PPI, rate fixing, MP’s expenses and the crises in the NHS and Police have done much to consolidate this mistrust.

Some would argue that ethical standards have been over-ridden by perverse incentives which destroy rather than create values. Does this matter? Research has shown that around two thirds of managers want to be seen as ethical. So how do managers think about ethics?

Managers and their Moraldna – Better Values, Better Business, a newly published report by the Chartered Institute of Management spreads some interesting insights into this complex question.

The report is based on a survey carried out using MoralDNA – an online psychometric profile that measures two aspects of human morality;

1. How we prefer to make moral decisions.
2. What moral values we prefer to consider when doing so.

You can take the MoralDNA Profile for yourself – it is free –

The report argues that when it comes to making decisions, we have three ethical perspectives: obedience (law), care (love) and reason (logic).

The ethic of obedience is driven by laws, rules and regulations and moral decisions are based on the extent to which these are obeyed or disobeyed and predicting the consequences in terms of discovery, reward or punishment.

The ethic of care is based on our experience and expectation that well-being, both for the individual and the group, will result from making decisions based on empathy.

The ethic of reason is based on decisions by the individual being based on critical reasoning and moral principles in order to make the right choice irrespective of the rules or consequences.

Philosophers and psychologists have long argued that ethics are driven by moral values and that the moral values most applicable to business ethics are:

Wisdom: I think through my decisions carefully.
Fairness: I treat others fairly and with respect.
Courage: I stand up for my beliefs and do what is right.
Self Control: I am patient and self-disciplined.
Trust: I encourage others to be positive.
Hope: I treat others fairly and with respect.
Humility: I am less important than the team.
Love: I am emphatic and care about other people.
Honesty: I speak the truth and encourage others to be open.
Excellence: I try to do my best in everything I do.

These ethics and values form the basis of the Moraldna survey.

The survey identifies individuals as one of six characters – Philosophers, Judges, Angels, Teachers, Enforcers, Guardians – based on their preferences for the ethics of obedience, care and reason. As with almost all psychometrics, none of these characters are better than others – just different.

The survey results show that managers’ moral make up is different from that of the general population with much higher numbers of Enforcers, Judges and Philosophers. It goes on to show the impact on managers’ moral reasoning by age, gender, management seniority, religion, political views and work environment.

The report concludes with a number of recommendations for individuals and employers.

This detailed report into the difficult but high profile issue of the ethics of leaders and managers at all levels, provides an invaluable insight into this area, raises self-awareness of how we behave, and recommendations for doing things better. It should be an essential read for all leaders and managers and copies can be obtained from: Chartered Management Institute, 2 Savoy Court, Strand, London, WC2R 0EZ.

A further report, showing the results of an in-depth analysis of how leadership styles (using Goleman’s six styles) and ethical preferences can be correlated to business performance, is due to be published in the autumn of 2014.


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