New executive programme teaches ethical leadership in business

12 July 2017

In an environment where shareholders, employees and broader stakeholders are increasingly calling for integrity, transparency and ethical behaviour, ensuring managers themselves operate and lead in an ethical manner is paramount to remaining competitive. A new executive programme from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM), helps organisations willing to advance the ethical DNA of their leaders and build and maintain a profoundly ethical culture.

“In this complex world, good leadership can make the difference between success and failure,” says Professor Marius van Dijke, who teaches in the two-day programme. “But leadership is not simply a matter of mechanically applying the right kind of techniques to get the right outcomes. Instead, good leadership is about achieving collective goals in a morally responsible manner.”

Van Dijke’s remarks are backed by several international studies that show leadership plays a key role in not only steering organisations in the right direction, including developing strategies and business models, but also in ensuring that there is a supportive culture in place, with employees motivated and committed to the organisation’s vision. “It is not enough to just run a business efficiently, just as important is that the ‘right’ human behaviour is nurtured.”

Integrity and personal ethics

One of the main factors leaders tend to be judged and evaluated on is their integrity and personal ethics. “People who can’t lead ethically are no leaders at all,” says Van Dijke. In the ‘Ethical Leadership in Business’ programme, the professor offers several practical tools and tips that helps managers become more aware of potential moral pitfalls and how to avoid those, as well as how to encourage morally responsible behaviour in other people.

RSM - Ethical Leadership in Business programme

Furthermore, participants will learn how to shape their organisation’s environment and internal work practices to prevent misbehaviour, think like an ethical leader and reflect on their own moral values, use the subtle influences that steer human behaviour as a force for good, and motivate others to behave ethically.

“Ethics is an art as much as a science,” says co-lecturer Doctor Gijs van Houwelingen. “It’s the art of morally responsible decision-making under uncertain and unclear circumstances.” He adds that modern day science has the potential to improve that art. “Often, it is our unconscious biases or incidental emotions that cloud our judgment and impair our ability to decide and behave in morally responsible ways. Such slip ups may have very real consequences.” 

Van Houwelingen says that during the ‘Ethical Leadership in Business’ programme, course participants will discover how to recognise these biases, and learn ways to overcome them. Programme participants will work interactively on real-life moral dilemmas and experience first-hand how minds can sometimes be tricked, down the line clouding moral judgments.

‘Ethical Leadership in Business’ is a two-day, English-taught programme by RSM Executive Education, one of Europe’s top 10 business schools. The course, which is aimed at managers and professionals with at least five years of professional experience, will take place on RSM’s campus in Rotterdam, with the first session is planned for October 2017.


How First Consulting generates more insight using fewer reports

08 March 2019

Organisations are continuously investing in more advanced data collection and manipulation methods to enable smarter and more informed business decisions. In order to maximise their business value, companies understand the growing need for performance related insights from their data. First Consulting, a consultancy firm specialised in business change, has helped many clients in the utilities sector to deliver effective change through improved use of their data.

Most utilities firms are structured in such a way that every business unit has a team of analysts who are responsible for providing relevant data insights to their business colleagues. The business analysis teams form the link between business decision making and IT by translating business requests into meaningful actions and delivering information via reports.

Typically, the business user will receive a unique report for each information request, with each new report requiring individual, tailored support from the analyst team. This limits the productivity of the analyst teams and minimises their ability to address new data requests. The growing demand for information puts additional pressure on these teams, as a significant amount of time is required simply to gather and update the required data. This has caused reporting portfolios to expand dramatically. However, due to the analysts’ already stretched capacity, reports do not always deliver the most vital information and documentation is often incomplete.

Redesigning information delivery

At First Consulting, business consultants work in close collaboration with their clients to improve the mechanism for the delivery of information and analysis in response to business requests. The improved structure focuses on providing information per role type, rather than per request. As such, one dashboard is designed for each organisational role type, with all the relevant information presented in a single overview. This allows all individuals of a given role type to open a single dashboard and view what they need, as opposed to collating a large range of disparate links and unique reports which, previously, were all required to enable business decision making.

Moving from unique reports for each request, to reusing KPIs in a select group of dashboards

By implementing this new way of working, clients are able to reduce the reporting portfolio from over 100 reports to fewer than 20 dashboards (see figure above). In addition, the capacity for data maintenance can be reduced significantly by using modular KPIs, allowing for the re-use of data across multiple dashboards.

Changing while everyday work continues

In order to deliver effective change, it is essential that day-to-day processes remain unaffected whilst transitioning to a new reporting landscape. First Consulting achieves this by embedding business consultants within the client’s analysis team to gain feedback and determine exactly what visuals are necessary within the dashboards. This focuses effort on the outcome (such as what should be presented in the final dashboard) and allows a broad range of requirements to be considered in the business context and combined, where appropriate.

Key users and stakeholders are involved from the outset to help define what makes a high-quality dashboard. Adopting this approach helps the team to produce an optimal output that contains the key business information for the appropriate roles in an easy-to-use format.

Once it is clear what should be included in the final dashboard and how this should be presented, the team works according to the priorities set out by the product owner. This ensures that analysts work on the requirements which deliver the most value and which form the most coherent dashboards.

Main results

The advantages of implementing straightforward, no-nonsense solutions using fewer reports are particularly noticeable for the business and for the analyst teams:

  • Making adjustments is easier and maintaining and updating data costs less time
  • Management information is displayed in one location and is displayed according to defined standards, facilitating decision making
  • There is greater capacity within the business for complex analysis and project support

First Consulting combines process, technology, and implementation consulting to deliver impactful and value-adding solutions. The firm has more than 200 consultants based in the UK and the Netherlands.