The Wisdom of Sustainability

All intelligent leaders possess three basic skills, but wise leaders harness them for the common good. In the course of studying intelligence and wisdom during his long and distinguished career as a psychologist, Robert J. Sternberg discovered that all effective leaders have high levels of:  Creative ability – developing novel ideas and approaches Analytical abilityContinue Reading

Sustainability as a Competitive Advantage

This article was originally published on the E4 Media Advisory web site. What do these companies have in common? Patagonia Ben & Jerry’s Seventh Generation By any conventional measure – profit, market share, and revenue growth – they’ve each achieved an enviable level of success in highly competitive industries once dominated by larger competitors. ButContinue Reading

Finger Pointing at the Moon – The Single bottom-line and GDP

“The welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measure of national income.” This quote from Simon Kuznets, one of the originators of the GDP, can also be applied to individual companies as microcosms of the overall economy. What is the purpose of your company?  To maximize shareholder value?  Or is it somethingContinue Reading

3 New Year’s Resolutions for a Tempered Radical

Tempered radicals are change agents who want to work within the existing system without selling out. Their personal values are often at odds with those of the dominant culture, so they feel a tension between staying true to their selves while living outwardly conventional lives.  Rather than ignoring or turning away from this tension throughContinue Reading

Provisional Sustainability – A Double-edged Sword?

During a recent panel on Economic Sustainability one of the panelists remarked that “this is not about morality – it’s about business.”  When he said the word morality it was with a tone that implied flighty sentimentalism that has no place in the real world – especially in a corporate boardroom.  He stressed the wordContinue Reading

Is Maximizing Shareholder Value Inherently Incompatible with Sustainability?

This article was originally published in Triple Pundit Podium. Managing the tension between maximizing shareholder value and integrating sustainability into corporate strategy requires adaptive leadership at the Board level. What is the purpose of a publicly traded company?  Are maximizing profits and share price synonymous with maximizing shareholder value?  How do shareholders who may have diverseContinue Reading

Why Board Skepticism Needs to Extend Beyond Financial Statements

The cover feature of NACD Directorship magazine is on “Honing Skepticism – Trust, but verify is the skeptics mantra.  Why professional skepticism is one of the most important skills for directors – and how to develop a questioning mind-set.” The article’s focus is primarily centered on the economic aspect – avoiding financial statement fraud. AndContinue Reading

How high (or low) does Amgen’s Board set the bar on ethics?

Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology firm, recently pled guilty to fraud agreeing to pay $762 million in criminal and civil penalties.  On its web site, Amgen displays its mission and values, which includes “be ethical.”  I think it’s fair to say that Amgen’s board believes that breaking the law is clearly unethical, but how highContinue Reading

Facing Uncertainty – Managing the tension between efficiency and resilience

As the fiscal cliff drew nearer in the final days of 2012, the cry for certainty grew louder from many in the business community.  Uncertainty, they claimed, was inhibiting their ability to manage their companies efficiently and make informed strategic decisions that would help boost the economic recovery. Each time I heard this basic narrativeContinue Reading

Corporations and Political Activity – Where is Your Board?

With a record $ 6 billion spent during the most recent elections, corporate political contributions and lobbying are of increasing concern to shareholders, activist groups and individual citizens.  According to a recent poll, nearly 90 percent of people in the U.S. say there is too much corporate money in politics. During the 2012 proxy season,Continue Reading