Dan Akerson (General Motors CEO) spoke last month at the Columbia Business School graduation.  He offered a strong challenge about the ethical opportunities for tomorrow’s business leaders:

“I hope you came to this great university with more in mind than getting a degree that would help maximize your earning power.  Let me be clear.  Making money is good.  I’m all for it.  I have been blessed in ways I never imagined, and I hope everyone has the same opportunities and success I’ve enjoyed.  But society needs more from you right now.  Some of the institutions our society relies on are in serious disrepair.” (Commencements: CEO Wisdom, 2012 Edition. Bloomberg Businessweek, 5/28/12–6/3/12, p. 24)

I’m all for making money too, but Akerson’s point is well taken.  Even more important than making money is doing the right thing—everyday.  We have many institutions today that dearly need people to choose to do the right thing.

This translates to our choice of business, who we work for, how we manage, who we choose to lead, who we choose to follow, and what we do in our community.  It translates to the decisions we make behind closed doors in the confines of our mind.  It translates to what we do when no one else is watching.

Never underestimate the impact your decisions have on other people, society, and of course yourself.  Doing the right thing means we don’t make decisions flippantly.  Instead, we apply our ethical framework to them.  We use our business sense and our ethical sense.

Akerson issues a strong challenge.  We have much throughout our society that needs repair.  Who is up for being a repair person today?

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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Johnson Controls at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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