“Greed is a quality that can push people to break ethical standards to further their cause and make money.” – Sims, R. R. (2000). Changing an organization’s culture under new leadership. Journal of Business Ethics, 25(1), 65-78.
Greed and Organizational Leadership
This study explores the relationship between greed and organizational leadership by means of three questions: (1) What is greed in light of the Christian tradition?; (2) How does it affect organizations in the late modern world?; and (3) How should organizational leaders deal with greed? Greed is understood both as an unlimited desire for material wealth, but also as the undisciplined pursuit of resources that leads to injustice, and drives an unsustainable consumption of both human and natural resources. One should not confuse greed with neither responsible self-interest nor ethical ambitions. Although greed may spur investment and entrepreneurship, it is argued that unregulated greed creates significant economic problems. Moral principles and system dynamic thinking should therefore guide visionary thinking and goal setting. This is even more important on the level of task oriented and strategic leadership, where organizations should resist the temptation to the ‘undisciplined pursuit of more’ that leads to short-term wins, but long-term losses. Greed is also identified on the level of relational leadership as exploitive leadership that neglects and threatens the human dignity and autonomy of co-workers. The study suggests four disciplines of anti-greed leadership, beginning with moral self-leadership.
Karl Inge Tangen, Ph.D.
Dr. Karl Inge Tangen is associate professor at HLT, The Norwegian School of Leadership and Theology. His research areas are practical theology and organizational leadership. He has also served as a pastor, principal and consultant in different types of organizations in Scandinavia.