Leadership and Business Ethics Training for MBAs | TopMBA.com

Leadership and Business Ethics Training for MBAs

By Pavel Kantorek

Updated January 23, 2019 Updated January 23, 2019

This article is sponsored by EU Business School.

Learn more about its MBA - Leadership.


As today’s graduates train to become tomorrow’s leaders, an MBA program that draws attention to business ethics can make all the difference.

Why Take Business Ethics Courses?

While business ethics courses may not be a guarantee of the taker’s possession of a corporate moral compass, they could help define best practices for candidates who are new to the often seemingly murky world of business.

Professor John Wetherell (pictured below), who teaches management at the EU Business School in Barcelona, feels that this is precisely where an MBA degree with a hands-on focus on business ethics training could come in handy. “So many business processes have been successfully standardized over the last three or four decades of globalization. But when it comes to business ethics they will often find that they lack the clear framework they have in the other areas of business.”

Fiscal storms and the shores of bankruptcy can surprise any business and candidates who don’t take business ethics seriously could later find themselves swept away by tides of pressure while heading key roles, leading to bad – and unethical – decisions.

Culturally diverse working environments and varying cultural approaches can lead to MBA graduates making difficult, and inconsistent, judgments. “A person's own ethical beliefs are behind all the decisions they take in the business world - marketing, finance etc., and so the best way to find and build standards of what is and is not acceptable is to compare and contrast the graduates' own experience and expectations in all the subjects that they study. So, I would definitely agree with a hands-on, cross faculty approach to the teaching of business ethics,” adds Wetherell.

A good business ethics course can help provide a structural framework where MBA students hone their workplace skills. This could help MBA graduates make savvy business decisions based on values they have learned while enrolled on their program, rather than for them to feel that business ethics is a standalone subject.

Leadership Development Training

“Whether it comes from a business ethics course or from a course on leadership development training, our MBA graduates have to be very clear that one of their obligations as a leader is to provide their staff with an ethically certain environment,” says Wetherell.

Certain programs that focus on leadership, such as the MBA in leadership at the EU Business School, include a course on business ethics training, which deals with the fundamental issues that form the basis of the business sphere. Candidates are required to question the structure of business operations, allowing them to explore underlying notions of accountability as well as their responsibility towards society at large.

“If we start from the premise that our human resources are our most important asset then we have to provide them with a working environment where they can develop their skills and talents, and putting them in situations of ethical ambiguity impedes this process. The more the employee worries about the ethical implications of their decisions, the less effective those decisions will be and the less satisfied they will feel about them. This is a very fast way of demotivating an employee - the opposite of leadership,” adds Wetherell.

Corporate Social Responsibility Training

Good MBA programs that weave business ethics training into their courses will afford candidates a platform from which they can think about contributing to society from a holistic perspective, rather than purely taking a business-centric view.

Themes like corporate social responsibility training and sustainability training can only be as strong as the vision that comes with them – a large part of which depends on the candidate’s approach to the ethical perspective they are familiar with. “This is fundamental and strategic, and it comes through emphasizing the stakeholder business model over the shareholder business model,” feels Wetherell.

“As the students engage with this model, they themselves begin to see the opportunities for satisfying other stakeholders' needs - opportunities that they previously hadn't considered as being within the goals of a business. Depending on the student, this can then lead to a more personal commitment that will accompany them into their future profession.”

This article is sponsored by EU Business School.

This article was originally published in April 2016 . It was last updated in January 2019

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Written by

Mansoor is a contributor to and former editor of TopMBA.com. He is a higher and business education specialist, who has been published in media outlets around the world. He studied English literature at BA and MA level and has a background in consumer journalism.

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