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Improvisational Leadership: Elevating Integrity in a Time of Uncertainty

The Conference Board of Canada, December 8, 2015
Recorded Webinar
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According to a recent survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers, 56% of CEO’s reported that they are “not happy with their firm’s framework for ethical behaviour.”

One reason for such surprising dissatisfaction is that codes, values, and protocols created a decade or more ago seem too one-dimensional to engage today’s complex operating reality. Another is that the increasing turbulence in the economy and society since the financial crisis of 2007-2008 has undermined trust in institutions, thereby diminishing the credibility of conventional ethics and social responsibility commitments. A third reason, and perhaps the most important, is that ethics programs have evolved primarily as structures of compliance, focused on preventing wrong-doing rather than providing inspiration, guidance and processes for managers trying to do the right thing.

Early in the 21st century, it is increasingly clear that the most pressing strategic quandaries facing organizations are embedded in a host of social, moral and environmental considerations. Threats as well as opportunities for any business involve navigating ethical as well as financial risks. This is especially true in a time of protracted uncertainty, as businesses attend to ever more diverse and demanding stakeholders, while dealing with structural disruptions posed by climate change, geo-political volatility, and new regulations, such as Alberta’s carbon tax.

In this one hour webinar, ethicist and author John Dalla Costa will propose the elements for a new wave of ethical leadership and governance. Drawing on research from social sciences, governance history, management studies, game theory, moral philosophy, and resilience, John will lay out a three part model for helping boards and leaders develop more of the ethical bandwidth needed by today’s firms.

Webinar Highlights

John will explain:

  • Why vision and values are today neither visionary nor credible;
  • Why transparency has not reversed the suspicion it was designed to address;
  • Why trust-building initiatives such as CSR have paradoxically eroded credibility;
  • Why strategic collaboration is an oxymoron;
  • Why the true meaning of fiduciary responsibility needs to be recovered and reapplied;
  • Why integrity is the most effective antidote to destabilizing uncertainty;
  • Why integrity is a “we” rather than “I” word.

About John

Photo of John Dalla

John Dalla Costa is the Founding Director of the Centre for Ethical Orientation (CEO). Working on organizational responsibility issues for over two decades, John has provided counsel to numerous executives and boards in Canada and internationally. In addition to introducing ethical tools for management, he has also spearheaded research on the state of trust in Canadian society.

The author of six books, John has been been involved in numerous global governance projects, including working with the Caux Roundtable, the U.N Global Compact, and the Global Dialogue Institute. In 2010 he served on two committees: one was an experts panel convened by the World Economic Forum to formulate processes for recovering trust for the global bankers after the financial crisis; the other was a task force to make recommendations to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to rebuild public credibility in the aftermath of the clergy-child abuse scandals.

John teaches ethics and social responsibility at the Schulich School of Business. He is also a founding faculty member of the Director’s College - the joint venture between the DeGroote School of Business and the Conference Board of Canada, which has been accrediting directors for over a decade.

With a Master of Divinity degree from Regis College (at the University of Toronto), John is also involved in numerous interfaith projects, including formulating principles and resources for “moral capitalism.”

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