New executive programme teaches ethical leadership in business

12 July 2017 3 min. read

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.