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“Ethical Leadership is good For Business”

H.E. Joseph A. Mussomeli

The power of ethical leadership – ethical leaders in business, politics and diplomacy are the ones who can build the trust. And Slovenia needs trust in order to regain HOPE.

“The trust is put to a test“, pointed out Biljana Weber in her introductory speech and as the main message of the event set out the statement by Bill Gates denoting that the leaders of the new era are those who encourage people.

Being aware of the significance of ethical leadership and transparency, AmCham Slovenia on the initiative of its Members formed a work group for Corporative Ethics and Transparency. Mag. Ajša Vodnik, Executive Director AmCham Slovenia invited the Members of the Chamber to jointly make a step forward from discussing ideas and from numerous ethical codes to concrete actions and activities.

The introductory address at the AmCham Business Breakfast – titled » Making Ethical Leadership: Environment, People, Ideas and Purpose«, was held by a special guest from the United States of America, Ms. Lisa Stewart, Director, Initiative for Business in Society (IBiS), Darden School of Business, University of Virginia, USA. The IBiS Research Center is one of the world` s leading initiators for establishing the network of information, suggestions, concrete solutions and cooperation between business and society based on promoting ethical business leaders who can with the aid of their position in business world have a positive effect on community.

Biljana Weber, General Manager Microsoft Slovenia together with guests Lisa Stewart and H.E. Joseph A. Mussomeli, the Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Slovenia, tried to find answers to the issues on how the business world can contribute to creating an ethical society and how to help develop ethical leaders.

H.E. Joseph A. Mussomeli, “Ethical Leadership is good for Business”

H.E. Joseph A. Mussomeli, the Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Slovenia, began his sincere and open introductory address with a quote of a great Roman statesman and lawyer Cicero: “We are in bondage to the law in order that we may be free”. Cicero, who was the first who gave his name to the prosecution of corrupt Roman officials always pointed out that the law is “the foundation of freedom” and that a society without laws would be a “body without a soul.” However Cicero in his reflections had merely the law in his mind while the ethical basis for the legislation is not necessarily always the same thing. The Ambassador said that Americans dare not always rely only on the law in order to have a healthy society. Obedience strictly to laws and law enforcement alone are not sufficient. He believes that if the modern society is not pervaded with integrity and with the culture of honesty and sincerity, it will gradually weaken and sink. The laws have too many loopholes and lack of mechanisms for their enforcement. Each and every stable, successful society must depend above all on the honesty and decency of its citizens to survive. The Ambassador quoted the thought of another ancient philosopher: “Laws are like cobwebs, if something helpless falls into them, it becomes caught, whereas the rich and the powerful can break through and escape.”

All of modern societies require a powerful code of ethics, which from the individuals requires respect for certain principles rather than for their own interests and interests of their friends and families. The society which allows exceptions to certain individuals – or puts the interests of individuals above the ethical principles – can not remain economically dynamic and politically stable for long, is convinced the U.S. Ambassador. Supporting ethical leadership is particularly important and hard in these tough economic times. In such circumstances we tend to resort to exceptions and look for shortcuts for ourselves, our friends and relatives. The lack of respect for the rule of law harmfully affects our society and redirects it on a way from where it is difficult to return. Therefore it is in these hard times even more important that a strong, independent judicial system should be committed to respecting the rule of law.

“Since many business leaders are present here today, I would like to on this occasion point out that the ethical leadership is good for business. At the Embassy we often talk with potential investors. They always keep asking us whether Slovenia is committed to the rule of law and transparency. In today` s global economy, most of investors require a truly strong commitment to the code of ethics as a starting point for positive investment decisions. A national BEP – gross ethic product is although intangibly, a concrete indicator of what the connotation of the investment is and the probability of profitability,” the Ambassador presented his views on business strategy in the future.

The Ambassador pointed out the essential values of the code of ethics, which according to his opinion are trust and integrity and gave thorough examples in the following illustration: “As Warren Buffett conveniently said: “Trust is like the air we breathe. When present, nobody really notices it, however when it is not, everyone does”. And according to an old stereotype:” Integrity has to do with how you act when you are certain that no one is watching.”

U.S. Ambassador very impressively concluded his thoughts: “To sum up, I offered two interrelated points. Firstly, if we are not committed to the law, we will depend on the human caprice. In other words, we will be slaves. And secondly – and much more importantly – if we are not committed to the code of ethics, we are controlled by own capriciousness and enslaved by own impulses. In other words, we are merely animals”.

“It is necessary to break through cynicism and skepticism with ethical goals”

The Ambassador also spoke about trust: “When you lose confidence, it is fatal and very catching. However the vice versa holds true as well – when you have ethical goals and you break through cynicism and skepticism, people will trust you and – will follow”.

“It is easier to resist an enemy than a friend”

H.E. Mussomeli sees a particular paradox in the fact that every family raises children to be honest, whereas at the same time an honest man has to be unconditionally loyal to his family which consequently may harm the interests of the society.

“It is much easier to resist your enemy compared to make a stand against your friend,” said Mussomeli.

Blind spot in ethics

To the ascertainment of Biljana Weber, that the leaders often think to have acted ethically, but their decisions actually proved non-ethical and what would be the solutions to avoid such “blind spots in ethics”, the Ambassador expressed his belief that we need to in everyday personal life constantly ask ourselves and self-evaluate ourselves whether we are doing right or not. In his opinion it is the same situation in the business world. He also said that he expects a high degree of loyalty from his subordinates, which means that his employees always directly and honestly express their opinion.

Lisa Stewart, “It is important to do what is right”

Lisa Stewart, Director, Initiative for Business in Society (IBiS), Darden School of Business, University of Virginia, USA, among other things said: “The criminal mind can not be transformed in a way to act ethically at work.” “The heads of organizations and companies can make a maximum for the ethics in business by discussing in detail with their employees and make clear that it is right if they warn of what they find to be ethically unacceptable,” said Lisa Stewart.

“Although in the time of crisis in a company it seems important only to achieve results and thus the ethical standards become more lax, it is important to do what is right. It proves good in a long term,” she agreed with the U.S. Ambassador.

In her opinion we can not do business without ethics and we need to step out from the old story which already incorrectly defines the true meaning of business. In fact it also points out that the leaders have to select the people with who they will together develop the values of the company very carefully. She believes it is not about money, the essence is in mutual relations.

Dejan Turk, Director Simobil, pointed out that the reputation of the company is very valuable, whereas not only results, but also the proper way of doing business count for the reputation. “Ethical can also be very effective,” said Turk, who sees as an important means to achieve ethical conduct in a company in the transparency of the conduct of the management.