The Ethical Executive: Becoming Aware of the Root Causes of Unethical Behavior: 45 Psychological Traps that Every One of Us Falls Prey To

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Overview


In this book, Hoyk and Hersey describe 45 "unethical traps" into which any one of us can fall. These traps, they say, can erupt in any organizational environment. Some of these traps distort our perception of right and wrong—so we actually believe our unethical behavior is right. Many of them are psychological in nature, and if we are not aware of them they are like illusions—webs of deception. In the authors' analysis, these traps significantly contributed to the large-scale corporate disasters we witnessed in recent years.

Hoyk and Hersey take account of these realities and offer a "real-world" method that will predict, preclude, and, if necessary, "get us out of" these traps. Given the increased scrutiny under which all executives and mangers operate today, this book is a 'must read' for anyone who is charged with achieving an organization's mission—whether that mission is increasing profit, serving the common good, or both.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Examining the headline-making moral lapses at Enron, Tyco International, Adelphia, World Com and other less-than-ethical business locales in the light of numerous psychological experiments, clinical psychologist Hoyk and professor Hersey illustrate in 45 breezy but beneficial lessons how we all face and fall victim to "day-to-day ethical traps. ...As the authors note, "[g]ood intentions are not enough," and this guide provides a useful, easy-to-read antidote for our unwitting corruptibility." —Publishers Weekly

"This book will not teach you how to be ethical, it will educate you to recognize the day-to-day ethical traps that we all face, analyze them and give the practical, usable information you need to respond in a way that supports good intention, fair decisions and abundant wealth. Whether you're a CEO, a lay person, an executive or a manager, knowledge of the traps described in this book will give you chance after chance to make substantial deposits in your self-esteem bank account." —From the Preface by Anthony Parinello, Author, Think & Sell Like A CEO

"The Ethical Executive is a must read for everyone. This book is clearly not just for managers or leaders, but should be read by all so as to avoid the traps that are pointed out in the text. The Ethical Executive can give individuals the experience of coping with ethical dilemmas before they arise. The book is clear and practical, and hence a quick read. It will save readers a lot of grief they could face in the future by knowing how to avoid ethical traps." —Randolph A. Pohlman, Ph.D., Dean, H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University

"If you rate yourself as more ethical than your colleagues, are you more likely than they are to act ethically in a real-world situation? To find the answer to this and many other interesting facts about ethical behavior, read this book. It is a delightful compendium of those impulses that lead perfectly good people to choose seemingly safe paths of no return—and a guide to avoiding the first steps on a potentially disastrous journey." —Leslie S. Greenberg, Professor, Department of Psychology, York University

"If money is your only goal and that end justifies your means, dont buy this book. If personal character, ethical choices and self respect are integral aspects of your understanding of success, buy it. Dr. Hoyk and Dr. Hersey have gathered accessible wisdom to help you untangle the ethical knots of your job. They write to guide, encourage and help you in your choice to be true to the highest you know and aspire to."—Reverend Dr. H. William Gregory, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, University of Southern Maine

Publishers Weekly
Examining the headline-making moral lapses at Enron, Tyco International, Adelphia, World Com and other less-than-ethical business locales in the light of numerous psychological experiments, clinical psychologist Hoyk and professor Hersey illustrate in 45 breezy but beneficial lessons how we all face and fall victim to "day-to-day ethical traps." Divided into three types, the first batch are "Primary Traps" that can "provoke us or trick us into illegal or unethical transgressions"; trap number one, "obedience to authority," is illustrated by the WorldCom controller who obeyed his CFO's order to hide $800 million in expenses, and Stanley Milgram's famous 1960 experiment in which student volunteers were told to administer seemingly dangerous electrical shocks to others. Next are "Defensive Traps," which allow us to "sidestep our guilt and shame," like "contempt for the victim" (Salomon Brothers traders treating customers like moving targets) and "self serving bias" (Ford and Firestone blaming each other for tire safety issues). Third is "Personality Traps," the ways we increase our vulnerability: "low self esteem," "need for closure," too much or too little empathy. As the authors note, "good intentions are not enough," and this guide provides a useful, easy-to-read antidote for our unwitting corruptibility.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Clinical psychologist Hoyk and Hersey (leadership studies, Nova Southeastern Univ.; coauthor, with Kan Blanchard, Management of Organizational Behavior) have pieced together 45 "ethical traps" facing executives, hoping that if these traps are identified and labeled they can be avoided. The authors begin by differentiating "primary," "defensive," and "personality" traps, then explain each trap and its effects on ethical behavior in one to three pages. The traps range from "justification" (a "primary" trap, initiated from outside) to "empathy" (a "personality" trap). Examples abound, but they are often taken from psychological studies and rarely from business. Two case studies are also not related to business, making their analyses less than useful for the target audience. Hoyk and Hersey provide no guidance for avoiding the traps or navigating out of them and do not even provide an overview of modern business ethics. As an introduction to the psychology of ethics, this is an interesting work, but supervisors looking for a guide to behaving ethically would do better to read almost any other textbook or case study.
—Brian Walton

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804771788
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2010
  • Pages: 152
  • Sales rank: 171,271
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author


Robert Hoyk is a Clinical Psychologist and has conducted research in several institutions. He has taught communication skills to executives, physicians, and couples. Paul Hersey is Distinguished Professor of Leadership Studies at Nova Southeastern University. He co-authored, with Ken Blanchard, Management of Organizational Behavior (Prentice Hall).
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Read an Excerpt

THE ETHICAL EXECUTIVE


By ROBERT HOYK PAUL HERSEY

Stanford University Press

Copyright © 2008 Robert Hoyk and Paul Hersey
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8047-5965-6


Chapter One

TRAPPED!

In the winter of 2001, Enron, the seventh largest company in the Fortune 500, went bankrupt. It was the second largest bankruptcy in the history of the United States. The Justice Department began an investigation after Enron admitted to fraudulent accounting that had overstated its income by $586 million. With the meltdown of the company, the loss to investors exceeded $60 billion.

In the spring of 2002, Adelphia communications, one of the largest cable companies in America, filed bankruptcy after restating its profits. The founder of the company, John Rigas, and his three sons had already been indicted. It was alleged that the Rigas family had used assets of their company as collateral to acquire personal loans of $3.1 billion. Recently, John Rigas was sentenced to fifteen years in prison, and his son Timothy Rigas was sentenced to twenty years in prison. They were convicted on charges of looting company funds to the tune of $2.3 billion. In the summer of 2002, the CEO of Tyco international, Dennis Kozlowski, was indicted for evading sales tax totaling $1 million. After continued investigations by the district attorney, Kozlowski and two other executives were accused of siphoning off $600 million of company money into their own pockets.

BothKozlowski and Mark Swartz, CFO of Tyco, received prison sentences of eight to twenty-five years for looting $150 million in company funds.

Without a doubt, the executives involved in these scandals had to be evil! They must have been psychopaths, leaders who would stop at nothing, leaders with criminal minds.

Perhaps in a few instances leaders who were responsible for scandals such as these were psychopaths. Robert Hare, who developed the Psychopathy Checklist, an instrument used by psychologists to diagnose psychopaths, estimates that 1 percent of people in business could be classified as being psychopathic. Yet the truth can often be disconcerting. Far more likely, these leaders are no different than you or us. "impossible!" you say. "I could never scam shareholders out of $60 billion!"

It's much more tidy and reassuring to blame one or two "evil" people. Myths of good and evil permeate our culture-there are the good guys and the bad guys.

One concept that Sigmund Freud pioneered and got right is that our behavior is multi-determined. There are multiple causes for our actions. the way we act is the result of a complex weave of situational factors, history, and personality. With the advent of social psychology, which is the behavior of individuals in groups, we have learned that the influence of the situation often overpowers the influence of personality. Even if we have good ethical values to begin with, given certain situational pressures, every one of us can become unethical.

From the ages of ten to eighteen the primary author of this book, Robert Hoyk, had one passion-magic. He performed for birthday parties, community functions, schools, colleges-he even performed one time at the Magic Castle, a private club for magicians in Hollywood.

Imagine that you're watching one of his favorite close-up tricks. Hoyk borrows a quarter from you. He picks up an empty drinking glass and drops the quarter into the glass. It clatters to the bottom. You're standing only a few feet away from him. He makes several magic passes with his hand and, suddenly, the quarter in the glass moves! It begins to levitate! The quarter slowly crawls up the inside of the glass almost to the rim. Abruptly, the coin drops to the bottom of the glass with a clink. Hoyk gives the coin back to you and you turn it over looking for any signs of tampering. None are evident.

How was the trick done? Hoyk used a long, fine, human hair. At each end was a small pellet of wax. One end was attached to his belt with the wax; the other end was lightly stuck to his thumb. When he borrowed the coin he stuck the pellet of wax to one side of the coin-the side opposite your view. With the coin at the bottom of the glass, all he needed to do was very slowly move the glass away from his body and the coin rose in the glass. Really, the coin didn't move-it was the glass that moved. But the coin looked like it was floating up the inside of the glass.

When you know how the trick is done, you clearly see the fine hair attached to the coin. You see the hair running up the inside of the glass, over the rim, and horizontally to Hoyk's belt. Once you're aware of the hair, it's hard to believe that you didn't see it before. You can see it plain as day once you know it's there. With awareness, illusions are just magic tricks that seem obvious. Without awareness, life's illusions trap us and distort our perception.

In this book, we will describe forty-five traps that every one of us falls prey to. Some of these traps distort our perception of right and wrong-so we actually believe our unethical behavior is right. The traps are psychological in nature, and if we're not aware of them they are like illusions-webs of deception. Once we see them, like the human hair in the magic trick, they lose much of their power to deceive us and we can more easily navigate around them.

In all likelihood, the traps we'll describe in this book helped to deceive ordinary people and sway them to torture and murder millions of human beings in Hitler's Germany. They probably influenced ordinary people to commit mass suicide and murder their children in Jonestown. In our analysis, these traps significantly contributed to the disasters of Enron, Adelphia, and Tyco.

Let's look at a company that had a tradition of high moral conduct that became trapped. In 2001 and again in 2002, Johnson & Johnson was ranked as the number one company Americans respected and admired. The company's credo states that its foremost responsibility is to the people who use its products. It's obligatory for all employees of this international company to be familiar with its credo. The credo was developed after the well-known Tylenol case in 1982. Johnson & Johnson recalled from stores thirty-one million containers of Tylenol following the death of eight people. Tylenol capsules had been opened and the ingredients mixed with cyanide. The company was not to blame for the deadly altering of the ingredients. Nonetheless, Johnson & Johnson redesigned the packaging so that the Tylenol capsules could not be tampered with. The recall cost the company close to $2.5 billion in revenues. This case has often been used in textbooks as a prime example of ethical conduct.

Sixteen years after the Tylenol case, LifeScan, a division of Johnson & Johnson, was raided by federal agents. LifeScan manufactured SureStep, a device that diagnosed diabetes. The company had withheld information from the F.D.A. concerning a defect in the software for SureStep. Johnson & Johnson was indicted for criminal charges and pleaded guilty. The company paid $60 million in fines. Ralph Larsen, CEO of the company, stated that the executives at LifeScan "cared deeply about the company's credo." Were these executives evil? More than likely, they were normal people. Probably, they got caught in a trap called minimizing, which we'll describe later.

The vast majority of people care about ethics, but are vulnerable to the traps described in this book. Good intentions are not enough to combat these forty-five traps. One of the most important ways to guard against corruption is to understand and be aware of these traps that distort our perceptions.

Knowledge of these forty-five traps will help the individual stay away from corruption. Voyagers who know the location of quicksand navigate around it. When we clearly identify danger, we can prepare for it and avoid it. Knowledge of these forty-five traps can give people the awareness that will enable them to make a difference; it will help individuals recognize and stop corruption at its roots-corruption within themselves and their organizations. Moreover, knowledge of these traps will aid individuals at all levels of an organization-from volunteers in nonprofit organizations to CEOs of large companies.

Corruption is widespread. A 2000 survey conducted by an accounting firm established that 49 percent of employees thought that if the misconduct within their business was made known, their organization would "significantly lose public trust." We all work for or belong to organizations. The traps described in this book can erupt in any organization environment.

Three years ago Bernard Ebbers, the CEO of Worldcom, was convicted in a federal court of an $11 billion dollar accounting fraud. He was given a prison sentence of twenty-five years! Worldcom was the largest bankruptcy in the history of the United States. Given the fact that our society is based on organizational systems and that trillions of dollars flow through Wall Street, there will always be a need for awareness of the traps described in this book.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from THE ETHICAL EXECUTIVE by ROBERT HOYK PAUL HERSEY Copyright © 2008 by Robert Hoyk and Paul Hersey . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments....................xxx
Foreword ANTHONY PARINELLO....................xxx
Trapped!....................1
Why Do Traps Exist, and What Are They?....................000
Why This Isn't Just Another Business Ethics Book....................000
A Word About Research....................000
Trap 1: Obedience to Authority....................000
Trap 2: Small Steps....................000
Sidestepping Responsibility....................000
Trap 3: Indirect Responsibility....................000
Trap 4: Faceless Victims....................000
Trap 5: Lost in the Group....................000
Trap 6: Competition....................000
Self-Interest....................000
Trap 7: Tyranny of Goals....................000
Trap 8: Money....................000
Trap 9: Conflicts of Interest....................000
Trap 10: Conflicts of Loyalty....................000
Trap 11....................000
Trap 12: Conformity Pressure....................000
Trap 13: "Don't Make Waves"....................000
Trap 14: Self-Enhancement....................000
Trap 15: Time Pressure....................000
Trap 16: Decision Schemas....................000
Trap 17: Enacting a Role....................000
Trap 18: Power....................000
Trap 19: Justification....................000
Trap 20: Obligation....................000
Annihilation of Guilt....................000
Trap 21: Anger....................000
Trap 22: Going Numb....................000
Trap 23: Alcohol....................000
Trap 24:Desensitization....................000
Minimizing....................000
Trap 25: Reduction Words....................000
Trap 26: Renaming....................000
Traps 27 and 28: Advantageous Comparison and Zooming Out....................000
Trap 29: "Everybody Does It"....................000
Trap 30: "We Won't Get Caught"....................000
Trap 31: "We Didn't Hurt Them That Bad"....................000
Trap 32: Self-Serving Bias....................000
Trap 33: Addiction....................000
Trap 34: Coworker Reactions....................000
Trap 35: Established Impressions....................000
Trap 36: Contempt for the Victim....................000
Trap 37: Doing Is Believing....................000
Trap 38: Psychopathy....................000
Traps 39 and 40: Poverty and Neglect....................000
Trap 41: Low Self-Esteem....................000
Trap 42: Authoritarianism....................000
Trap 43: Social Dominance Orientation....................000
Trap 44: Need for Closure....................000
Trap 45: Empathy....................000
The Parable of the Sadhu....................000
Analysis....................000
Lost in the Group....................000
Tyranny of Goals....................000
Time Pressure....................000
Conflicts of loyalty....................000
Self-Serving Bias....................000
Annihilation of Guilt....................000
Jonestown....................000
Analysis....................000
Psychopathy....................000
Obedience to Authority....................000
Justification....................000
Desensitization....................000
Conformity....................000
Conformity Pressure....................000
Small Steps....................000
Doing Is Believing....................000
Final Words....................000
Notes....................000
Index....................000
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2008

    Timely Reading

    This is a timely title, given that many of our current problems were created by unethical behavior. The book is firmly grounded in science and practicality, and written in an accessible format. It is a landmark primer on behavior, and should be required reading in all MBA programs.

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