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A Better Way to Think About Business
How Personal Integrity leads to Corporate Success
Robert C. Solomon, 172 pages, Oxford University Press (1999)
Dieselgate, cartel scandals and corruption: one might easily get the impression that managers worldwide have gone wild. It is for this reason that today’s recommendation of Solomon´s classic “A Better Way to Think About Business” is more topical than ever before.
Leaders going wild, that is Solomon´s starting point, when he takes the reader through a short historical exploration of the creation of today´s business world. Management, he claims, is more similar to war, than it is to creating value within the corporation and beyond. Through unlimited competition, a mentality of dying and letting die has entered the management levels, creating widespread mistrust, hypocrisy and greed. It is on this ground, Solomon argues, that the picture of the respectable businessman has collapsed into one of the most despised professions existing.
Bad enough, Solomon contends in the second part. Here he contrasts today´s business world with what he understands under a sustainable business, a business that is as good to itself as it is to society. Managers, same as every individual, strive for personal fulfilment and the esteem they get from others – both difficult to achieve in a business world of anger and greed. Thus, for serving their self-interests, managers need to do good to others. Thereby they are enabling their corporation to prosper in a sustainable manner, without scandals and above all, with the dedication of everyone involved.
That’s were Solomon applies his core advice to business leaders: act integrally! What he means by integrity is not just the concordance of words and deeds, for him it is an overarching virtue for acting as a good person. That is why the last part of the book consists of a catalogue of virtues that the integer leader should include in his activities.
Solomon´s book is on the one side startling: it gives a comprehensive explanation for why we have a very general problem with how business is done. But it is at the same time encouraging: it makes a convincing case for how a business can be run without many of the moral disasters taking place. Thus, for every leader it is the perfect starting point to question why he is leading and where he wants to go in the future.
This book is a great recommendation. If your leaders need to develop the attitude and skills to ethically reflect, to behave responsibly and create sustainable business results we recommend to get in touch with us quickly.