Many developments in enterprise learning facilitate efforts to develop virtuous leadership. These include:
Coaching: Personal mentoring and coaching — performed with an awareness of the coach’s responsibility in shaping an ethical culture — is important to leadership development programs and courses in ethics. Coaching in this case becomes an exercise not only in teaching points of knowledge but in imitating a master’s behaviors.
Kurt Olson, vice president of talent management and leadership development at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, said this kind of coaching is especially important for programs targeted at high potentials. “Once you form those personal connections between virtuous leaders and their reports, that creates organizational stickiness for employees and executives as well. Those connections live on long after the initial supervisory experiences are over.”
Case-based and action learning: Consideration and discussion of dilemmas posed as issues of virtuous leadership are important, and they need to be reinforced through real-time discussion and sharing of experiences. Program participants could ask: What worked for you? What didn’t? How have you been affected by leaders, and how have you affected others?
Social networking: Discussion forums, carefully planned and monitored, can have a positive influence on ethical culture, because they are opportunities for employees to share their experiences. There is risk here, but many organizations default to too high a setting for risk-aversity when it comes to social media. Much of the risk can be mitigated by setting ground rules for sharing experiences that emphasize openness and positivity, and by having leaders monitor and participate in the discussions to correct misconceptions or indicate steps the company is taking in light of the insights being shared.