When a financial goal is set at the top, it travels at the speed of light all the way down to the frontline manager, who immediately feels accountable for her part in reaching this goal.
But when the CEO speaks of the importance of business ethics, the news doesn’t travel as fast. No one leaves the meeting with an urgent desire to share the boss’ latest wisdom on the value of doing the right thing.
Why is that?
Clearly because it is not seen as important as financial results, even when it’s clear that unethical practices hurt financial results in the long term. And there you have it: the age-old discussion about the short-term outlook of corporations. Which suggests that a CEO’s job is not simply to talk about business ethics but to talk specifically about the importance of sacrificing short-term gains if ethical compromises are necessary.
The speed at which information travels tells you the value of that information for the organization.