In business, virtues - such as respect, honesty, responsibility and consideration - must be modeled. They require daily proactive, positive examples exhibited at the top, if they are to shape a credible and lasting organisational culture. More than codes of conduct and compliance, moral character in leadership can shape and inspire an organisation values.

As I prepare to finish my post-graduate studies in corporategovernance, responsibility and international business ethics later this month,I have been reflecting on leadership. During each module, studying businesscases on corruption, collapses and collaborations, it became clearer to me thatthe concept of good leadership is simply non-negotiable. For our businesscommunity, society at large and environment to mutually thrive, we require theright leaders exhibiting the right leadership behaviours.

In the Handbook of Virtue Ethics, the businessethicista href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319469361_Virtue_ethics_and_management" target="_blank">Wimandekerckhoveevelops Aristotle theory onthe role of irtueand uccess Vandekerckhove 2013 journal argues that,given the impact organisations have on our lives, business and society needpeople of good character to create success across society in all its variedmanifestations.

In business, virtues - such as respect, honesty, responsibilityand consideration must be modeled. They require daily proactive, positiveexamples, exhibited at the top, if they are to shape a credible and lastingorganisational culture. More than codes of conduct and compliance, moralcharacter in leadership can shape and inspire an organisation values.

Who exemplifies good leadership?

When I think of what attributes make a good leader, thereare cues from real-life examples of leadinga href="https://barackobama.com/">w... href="https://www.gatesnotes.com/glo... ourglobalised world. These people are change-agents in their own unique ways andthey inspire across ages and races. No doubt one springs to your own mind asyou read this.

A good business leader that inspires me daily is PaulPolman, CEO ofa href="http://www.unilever.com/sustai... follow on Twitter and LinkedIn, and around whose attributes this article iswritten.

What makes a good leader?

  • A champion of all people: Encourages and celebratesemployees &ollaborators. Actively supports local communities.Acknowledges good leadership in others.
  • positive platform: Uses their influential positionto unite others, via social media and in person.
  • values-centric mindset: Aligns ethical virtues withtheir organisation, to create a positive randculture that transcendsregional operations.
  • A long-term thinker:reaks away from themainstream to chart a course for long-term value creation. Polman orchestrateda change to Unilever dominant Anglo-American baseda href="https://www.fcltglobal.org/blo... a model that serves long-term multi-stakeholders.
  • n advocate for change: Sees their business as a forcefor good. Polman plays an integral role driving the UNa href="https://sustainabledevelopment... DevelopmentGoals, established in 2015. Unilever has adopted a number of the GlobalGoals, embedding these into their CSR strategy. Such is the commercial impactthat Unilever green brands are growing nearly 50% faster than the rest of thebusiness portfolio.

A key ingredient to this leadership style is this:thicalvirtues. Since becoming the CEO of Unilever in 2009, Polman has successfullymodeled his virtues in his leadership style and decisions. He has created anexecutive board which actively demonstrates shared principles, embedding espectompassion ommitment ooperation and oyaltyintoheUnileverulture. What is remarkable about this achievement is that it isunconventional for a publicly listed company, and one that spans Africa, theAmericas, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East, with a group annualturnover in excess of 0billion. Given the need to navigate such differingcultures and the powerful stakeholders behind such scale, this is no mean feat.

This style of leadership is in total contrast with thereport findings on thea href="https://www.parliament.uk/busi... described by some as the UK equivalent of the Enron collapse. Theexecutive leadership at Carillion was described by Members of Parliament fromtwo Parliamentary Select Committees, as one of reed egligenceandubris Clearly, Unilever and Carillion are organisations at different endsof the leadership spectrum.

Developing a leadership style

For readers interested in the subject of transformationalchange and the role of leadership, I recommend thisa href="https://www.cisl.cam.ac.uk/pub... Institute of Sustainability Leadership, University of Cambridge (cisl), andthisa href="https://www.ft.com/content/220... Paul Polman, which gives an insight into the man behind the leader.

As CR & Sustainability professionals we can lead atevery level. We can inspire as well as invite our colleagues and collaboratorsto regularly ask of themselves: hat am I doing for my Company, Community, andCountry?The late American author and civil rights activista href="https://hbr.org/2013/05/maya-a... Angelouncesaid:If you don like something, change it. If you can change it, changeyour attitude.o:p>

Whether working as a consultant or an employee, I take dailyinspiration from a leadership pool across sectors and society, and willcontinue to bring value to every project and role. Sharing Polman pledge viahis Twitter bio, I too will usebusiness as a force for goodlembodypurpose, passion, [and a] positive attitude.b>Will youjoin me?


Please note: the views expressed in thisblog are those of the individual contributingmember, and are not necessarily representative of the views of IEMA or anyprofessional institutions with which IEMA is associated.o:p>

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Bella Stephens-Ikpasaja

Bella Stephens-Ikpasaja is a communications strategy consultant working with clients to develop and improve stakeholder services. Bella recently delivered a relaunch strategy for the UK Green Building Council’s Sustainability Learning programmes. Prior to that she built over 10 years’ industry-wide experience in the Advertising and Marketing Services industry, developing client relationships for award-winning UK and global agencies. Bella has broad sector experience including FMCG, Financial Services, Government, Healthcare, and Transport. A member of the ICRS and IEMA, Bella is an advocate of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.