On moral hazard for leaders

Back to the dualism of the workplace. Good is the manager who does the “right” thing by the company, “bad” is the manager who serves their own self-interests. I’ve long held it as axiomatic that organisations should consciously align the motivation of management, employees, customers and shareholders. But do some managers consciously and deliberately serve their own ends – building their little empires, favouring some staff, lying and paying lip service to their seniors and to company strategy? Or do these “bad” managers actually think they’re doing the right thing? What is the right thing anyway?
I can be quite the idealist, at least sometimes. I like to think, in such moments, that a business can operate with a collective morality…building on the etymology of the word “corporate” and attributing to it the consciousness, the free will, the ethical capacity of it’s individual counterpart. But can a business consisting of fallible humans who are less than “good” all of the time be, in sum total, good? Can good leadership, strategy, policies, processes, systems, products beget a consistently good outcome? Or is the corporation a chain no better than its weakest link?
If there is such a thing as corporate goodness, what are its constituent components? What are the levers to improve it? How can we conduct a current-state analysis, design a future state, and solve for the difference? Are customers willing to “pay” for dealing with a good company? Do employees want to work for such a company? Do shareholders want to invest in good?
If anyone has the answers to these questions, please drop me a line!

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