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Power, Responsibility & Wisdom: Exploring the issues at the core of Ethical Decision-Making and ... - page 7 / 13





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statements that reflect our understanding of behaviour patterns that appear to work in a positive, sustainable, direction. But a statement of Wisdom is only useful if it also checks out with our own experience.

Of course, that relatively simple objective is not quite as easy as it sounds, for at least two reasons:

Firstly, the word 'better' inevitably means that we are involved in considering the whole subject of values. A critical part of the content of any Wisdom statement is the extent to which it incorporates judgments about values. In fact that is a critical part of the definition of what we mean by Wisdom. That does not mean that all statements that reflect values can be defined as Wisdom; the extra dimensions required is that they are widely accepted and have 'stood the test of time'. In addition, while all wisdom is reliable, useful, information, not all reliable information can be considered as Wisdom; they are insights into values, people and relationships that work. They are not simply technical statements that have no human or relationship dimension.

Secondly, it is important to recognise that in trying to 'make the world a better place for us all' can easily run into potential areas of conflict. For example, making things 'better' for some people can be at the expense of making it worse for others. Much of the conflict in this area is because different people use different time horizons, when they talk about the future. Some people are obsessed with tomorrow, whilst others are primarily concerned with what they perceive to be the needs of the next hundred years. How, or whether, differences in perspectives are resolved is critically dependent on the quality of dialogue between the parties.

In my view, there are no absolute answers; consequently the only way to make progress is to try to ensure that the quality of the dialogue between all concerned (ie., all the stakeholders) is as effective as possible. In the end, the quality of our decisions depends on the quality of our conversations/dialogue; that is not only dialogue about information but, perhaps even more important, it is about what is the best way to use that information. In other words it is about our values. Dialogue facilitates both the transfer of technical knowledge, as well as being an invaluable part of personal development. Having a quality dialogue over values is not only the most important issue we need to address, but it is often the most difficult. In this area, there is a paradox with the concept of passion, the importance of which is emphasised in much current management literature. If this passion is exhibited by a Power-driven person, who tend to think they have all the answers, and they are all too often not interested in listening, then holding a positive dialogue can easily become problematic! The only way to ‘square that circle’ is to ensure that all the other people involved are convinced of their integrity, and that they are reflecting a genuine concern for the wider interest in the decisions that are taken. The greatest challenge that most organisations face is how to manage effectively Power-driven, passionate, people in such a way that their priority is encouraged to be consistent with the long term interests of the organisation as a whole, rather than just with

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