Business ethics fill the fall bookshelves

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Archives - September 2007
Saturday, September 01, 2007

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BROWSE THE BUSINESS SECTION of the local bookstore and the majority of titles have a “follow my example” theme. If it’s true that the winners write history then it’s the successful business people who write how-to books. The hot business book trend of the moment is business ethics, according to Danielle Marshall from Portland’s Powells.com. Here is a sampling of the new books in this genre hitting the shelves this fall:

The Mindful Leader: Ten Principles for Bringing out the Best in Ourselves and Others

Human resources executive and meditation teacher Michael Carroll explains how to apply Buddhist mindfulness teaching to organizational leadership in this book developed around the idea that being fully present in the moment can lead to better leadership. Carroll outlines how simple steps can lead to mental clarity and stress reduction in the workplace.

Beyond Success: Building a Personal, Financial, and Philanthropic Legacy

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Randy Ottinger, former senior vice president for Bank of America’s private bank, spoke with affluent leaders and executives for this guide to establishing a meaningful financial and family legacy. His ideas include tips on preventing the “trust-fund baby” phenomenon.

Built to Serve: Leading a Sustainable, Culture-Driven, People-Centered Organization

United Supermarkets, a grocery chain throughout Texas, is known for its U-Crew volunteer teams. Each team performs community service projects in its local communities. In this book, Dan Sanders, former company CEO, explains the value volunteering occupies in the corporate world.

Leaving Microsoft to Change the World

John Wood had the type of executive job many would covet: Microsoft’s director of business development for China. In the late 1990s, inspired by a trip to the Himalayas, Wood decided to leave his job and establish Room to Read, a nonprofit aimed at providing an education for children in rural Asia and Africa. 



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Editor's Letter: Power Play

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014

There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda


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