Walk the Talk: Managing With Integrity

Start the new year right with an ethical approach to management

30/12/2015 Barcelona

Illustration: Ana Yael

More than going in the same direction, make sure you’re going in the right direction / Illustration: Ana Yael

Transparency and reputation are two of the big business trends that IESE professors have highlighted for 2016, making the latest issue of IESE Insight magazine – on the topic of Integrity – a must-read for all executives to start the new year on the right foot.

The cover dossier, titled Walk the Talk: Managing With Integrity,” says that legislation can only go so far to address the management shortcomings that dominated headlines at the end of 2015. “Numerous countries have passed laws to toughen the penalties for executives guilty of mismanagement,” states guest editor Antonino Vaccaro, associate professor of Business Ethics at IESE. “But this needs to go hand in hand with an effort to raise the level of integrity in management.”

“Indeed, no amount of legislation will ever be enough if executives don’t also change their corporate cultures and managerial practices to favor integrity and responsibility. Ethical awareness needs to become part of everyday decision-making, always mindful of the impact on stakeholders and society at large.”

An Ethical Approach Deeply Rooted in Values

The first article by IESE’s Joan Fontrodona and Pablo Sanz challenges an approach that would rely solely on legal compliance to right all the world’s wrongs. Compliance is important, they say, but only when taken in tandem with an ethical, integrity-based approach, deeply rooted in values that promote the moral development of organizational members.

Compliance officer Enrique Aznar and professor Antonino Vaccaro explain the current challenges facing the compliance function in multinational companies. They recommend a more expansive conception: the Chief Integrity Officer. And though “integrity” is in the job title, “integrity” has to be everyone’s job, they insist.

Executive readers, particularly those working multinationally, may say these ideas are good in theory but not in practice, as the ground-level realities are rather distinct. However, the fact that these recommendations need to be made relevant to each business context does not negate the underlying values that inspire them. Integrity is universal, and the final article by Matthias Kleinhempel of IAE Business School offers advice and examples for putting it into practice wherever your business operates.

Helping Leaders Deal With VUCA Conditions

Also in this issue, IESE’s Fred Krawchuk urges the creation of Strategic Integration Units to help leaders deal with VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) conditions, based on his military experiences in the Middle East.

In an interview with Pedro Videla, chairman of the Economics Department at IESE, Jaime Caruana, general manager of the Bank for International Settlements, elaborates on the main risks facing managers today. “It’s in everyone’s best interest to think about the repercussions of what you do,” he stresses. 

Sometimes this requires reassessing your existing organizational structures, as Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer point out in their article. Is your company’s hierarchy facilitating efficient interactions and setting clear expectations – or is it suppressing the voices of those whose perspectives need to be heard?

If you sense change is needed, don’t wait until the pain is so great that you have no choice but to change. Although this is the tendency of many companies when it comes to adopting innovation, Igal Aisenberg reveals six keys to effect positive social change before it’s too late, based on his experience with drip irrigation systems in Israel.

What are you waiting for?

Members of the Alumni Association and subscribers to IESE Insight – a quarterly research-based magazine, published in separate English and Spanish editions – can read all these articles using their membership credentials.

Those who are neither Alumni nor subscribers can access the premium content either by subscribing to the magazine or buying the articles.