Independent in All Things, Neutral in Nothing

Doing good for the community

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Earlier this week, I attended a business networking dinner, to which I’d been invited by a friend. It turned out to be an excellent and interesting event, particularly in hearing the advice of the guest speaker, about which I may write more later.

After the speaker, one attendee raised a question to the group, which began meeting earlier this year — should the group also attempt to do ‘some good for the community’ in addition to supporting the members in their business careers?

While the group debated the specific project he raised, there seemed to be general consensus that doing ‘some good for the community’ should be one aim of the group. Several of the group’s members had attended top tier business schools, which fall over themselves to proclaim the good they and their graduates do for the world. (That’s a topic for another blog. In the meantime, this is an excellent article from The Economist:

Why does this desire to do ‘some good for the community’ — especially in a business context — exist? Have the business schools driven it into a generation of graduates? Is it the growing CSR movement? Does self-protection motivate it in business? Do people simply desire to be viewed as ‘good’ themselves by raising the ‘do good’ question publically?

No doubt each of these reasons has contributed to this phenomenon. But that leads me to perhaps a better question: why is being a good, competent, decent business leader no longer a sufficient aspiration? Overwhelming evidence — far too much to name here — surely suggests the presence of far too few competent, capable, effective business leaders in this world. Just consider what effective, capable leadership can achieve — job creation, dynamic and challenging careers for employees, financial well-being for employees,  new products and services, lower prices for consumers and businesses, among many others. Aren’t those tremendous ‘goods for the community’? Don’t those matter to people? And aren’t they difficult enough to achieve? Of course, this is a simplified analysis, but I return to the question — and it’s one I have not resolved in my own mind — isn’t becoming, and being, a capable, honest, effective leader a noble enough aspiration? Isn’t that doing enough good for the community?


Written by Russell S.

October 1, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Posted in Ethics

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