The most I laughed in graduate school was in a class on Business Ethics.
Does that surprise you?
It sure blew my mind. After all, ethics has a reputation for being part tranquilizer, part antagonist. If it doesn’t put you to sleep with simple axioms, it rankles you through coerced thinking.
Not in our classroom that term at the University of Michigan. It was more like that famous shot of adrenaline to the heart in Pulp Fiction? Every hour we spent together was filled with rancorous debate, frank stories, and unexpected laughter. This wasn’t just because we had a great teacher and a bunch of characters in the room. What made our conversations so engrossing–and fun–is that we had a safe space to rigorously and respectfully air our differences–not only with each other, but within ourselves. To challenge each other’s assumptions, bring undiscussable topics into the light of day, and wrestle with the complexity that underlies every single business situation–if you know where to look.
Two decades later, I invited the teacher of that class, Tim Fort, now at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, to join me for a conversation.
In Episode 9 of The Amiel Show, Tim Fort and I discuss:
- Why it’s important and difficult to know which virtue to use in which situation
- What we can learn about trust and business ethics from Star Wars and football marching bands
- How integrity is neither simple nor idealistic but a practical confrontation with a complex world
- How organizations can make it easier for people to speak candidly about difficult issues
- What leaders can do to deliberately practice high integrity behavior on the job
- What Tim is personally practicing to develop as a human being