Can people be considered genius – without any moral compass to guide their actions? Are swindlers enabled where you work, under the guise of intelligence? In an age where horizons shift, leaders look past moral failures of big business, and a sense of new beginnings enters the fray, where do ethics fit?
Look into intuitive intelligence and you will see ethics at its core. That should not surprise us. Otherwise, why embrace honesty, lead with humility and walk humbly?
We know that each person is born with a unique mix of moral intelligence, and the brain strengthens moral codes with each ethical act. We also know a person’s choices generate new dendrite brain cell connections for more of the same.
What may come as a surprise though is the brain’s proclivity to change itself to act ethically or corruptly, in future dilemmas. Simply stated, today’s actions to cheat on a test rewire you for cheating in financial practices. Or slight conflicts of interest today, grow neuron pathways for the kind of greed that governs corporate America tomorrow. Inequity that enters a boardroom with only one culture or one gender or one average age, strengths brainpower for more of the same in the next meetings.
My question is:
Can a leader be a genius without showing ethical guidance?
If ethical brainpower is valued as a central part of the intelligent brain, it’s time to revisit MacArthur’s criteria, that awarded several of 25 geniuses to highly unethical leaders in the past decade.
If, on the other hand, leaders can simply drop ethics out of the intelligence mix altogether, you’d better run for cover in the next decade.
Take Karl Rove, the 58 year old Fox news contributor, who won genius status from MacArthur for changes he led with a 50+1 strategy that microtargeted votes for George Bush to win neighborhood ballots. If ethical IQ or intrapersonal intelligence had been factored into the gauge to identify geniuses – would Rove have won genius awards?
Or check out Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian surgeon, who won 23rd place out of 25 geniuses showcased in the decade’s genius level. You likely remember, he became bin Laden’s confidant, who spear-headed the 9/11 attacks. Is that genius material or gross stupidity? How you decide whether to include or exclude ethical leadership into intelligent leadership will impact what the world looks for, expects and enables in innovative leaders.
Should high performing minds of the future, be held to ethical standards that lead a finer future? Or should brilliant change agents, be listed among minds that promote violence or steal for personal gain? That choice for or against ethics as key to intelligence, will impact leaders who guide innovation across differences for your grandchildren’s era.
What’s your take on fostering more ethical leaders in the coming year?