Eagle Talk

Moral Courage – Your DNA for Leadership Integrity

In my recent newsletter “Moral Courage – Your DNA for Leadership Integrity”, I wrote about the aspects of moral courage in a world that seems to be moving faster and faster toward a meltdown of ethical behavior and values. Based on your own experience, what actions would you take to stop this deadly values erosion?

Here are a few fantastic replies:


Great piece on moral courage. I agree wholeheartedly and am distressed there is so little of it in our world today… You wrote about McCrystal’s book (which I’ll pick up asap). Not sure if you’ve read Scaling Up Excellence yet, but I’m almost through it and it is the best business book I’ve read since Good To Great. Written by two Stanford B-School profs, there is so much in it that resonates with lessons you and Snadecki taught me over the years.

I know I’ve told you many times before, but I want to again express my deep gratitude for all you gave me while I was in Sun Valley. Priceless, invaluable counsel and advice… I’m forever in your debt…


“My thoughts on Integrity and Leadership.  Moral training is not a part of our education system – very little exposure to Right and Wrong!  Organizations such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, YMCA (morals and leadership), Military (discipline and personal hygiene).  Since the 1960’s the respect for anyone in authority has greatly diminished.  The “Feel Good, Do It” era has held forth and deferred gratification is not important.  How can you be an effective leader if you are unwilling to build a foundation in the basics of any line of work?  Results in excellence!”


“This is the best of the newsletters which you have sent out… Oustanding! I truly love the focus of this.  Asking ‘why we’… ‘where [are] we’… and then poviding the answer… Clear, focused, powerful.”


“I always find your thoughts stimulating. You remark on the seeming collapse of morality and intergrity amongst the very people from whom we expect a good deal more. You cite McChrystal’s point that the present climate of complexity leads to uncertainty. That climate no doubt means that talented individuals operate in isolation from one another and lack the sense of a common social responsibility. Our complex setting(s) mire us in unpredictability.

That unpredictability means the obscuring of the effects to which causes lead. This throws people back on to the one yardstick universally recognized as measuring success – money. Everything is hitched to money because it is the one standard which survives the surrounding anarchy, and everyone can use it as a measure. The threat of  uncertainty and unpredictability results in the shunning of long-term solutions in favour of short-term objectives which are more manageable. Why else is the country littered with power lines strung up on poles above ground which are obviously more vulnerable to bad weather over the long term than are those run underground, as in Europe? The pressure in American capitalism is to produce quick, impressive results, not wise investment. In such a scenario, our vaunted individualism means the left hand knows not what the right hand does, nor sees any obligation toward enlightenment. What is important is to produce short-term profits.

Though money is taken to be the one accurate yardstick and is considered to be self-justifying, we can see that its predominance in the moral sphere is an example of the inability to subject it to other standards which display its destructive pretensions as the universal moral standard.  Complexity and unpredictability have freed it from all restraints with results we all deplore. Even our wisest judges, treating unrestrained money as merely an expression of free speech, appear to justify this with some sort of alleged constitution-based anarchy.”

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