Flynn - The Virtuous Manager (1).pdf - The Virtuous Manager...

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The Virtuous Manager: A Vision for Leadership in Business Gabriel Flynn ABSTRACT. This article seeks to contribute to a vision for leadership in business based on a recovery of virtue. The vision for leadership articulated here draws princi- pally on the writings of the classical philosopher Aristotle and of the contemporary philosopher Josef Pieper. Without discounting the ever-increasing complexity of modern business, this essay will attempt to reconstruct Aristotle Õ s emphasis on virtue and moral character, and argues for the philosopher Õ s relevance to modern man- agement and corporate leadership. The paper concludes that the message of virtue is a message of hope and at- tempts to find plain language to articulate its value to those engaged in business or concerned with the for- mulation of government policy. KEY WORDS: Aristotle, ethics, Ireland, leadership, leisure, manager, responsibility, virtues, Thomistic ethics Introduction 1 The purpose of this paper is to contribute to a vision for leadership in business based on a recovery of virtue. While others also have undertaken to furnish such a vision, 2 my aim here is, first, to enter in depth into Aristotle Õ s thought, keeping in mind the man- agerial work, and, second, to present and to discuss some ideas of the brilliant German philosopher Josef Pieper (1904–97), whose lucidity earned the praise of T. S. Eliot: ‘‘Pieper Õ s sentences’’ – he said – ‘‘are admirably constructed and his ideas are expressed with maximum clarity. He restores to philosophy what common sense obstinately tells us ought to be found there: wisdom and insight ’’. 3 I shall argue that an ethics of virtue provides important elements of a possible riposte to the seri- ous financial scandals currently affecting business globally. I want to demonstrate that virtue ethics contributes to an environment for business that fosters best practice. The formulation and successful enactment of such a vision for leadership requires a complex and normally difficult series of interactions between relevant parties, including, among others, ethicists, financiers, bankers, business entrepreneurs and executives, representatives of the business schools and public representatives, parliamentarians and members of the trade union movement. The objective is not to create another ‘Utopia Õ , to illus- trate a new theory of perfection. The unfortunately all too common phenomenon of financial and political scandals has effectively obliterated the no- tion of a perfect society in the minds of the present and future generations. Informed rather by the highly competitive environment of business and enterprise, where success is normally determined by margins of profit and where ethics is largely confined to the periphery or beyond, an appropriate applica- tion of virtue in the domain of business would contribute concomitantly to enhanced company profits and to the well-being of employees. My point is that the coalescence of virtue and profit is possible
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