Legal vs. Ethical Liability: A Crisis of Leadership and Culture

TEDTalk Tuesday

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Professor Fugate argues that leaders at all levels and across industries need to focus on ethical liability above and beyond legal liabilities for themselves and their organizations. Ethical liability tests the true character of a leader and determines the character and quality of an organization’s culture. He illustrates this point in the context of higher education, where he contends a lack of accountability has led to a crisis of leadership and culture. Fugate uses scandals in college sports as common examples of a pervasive and larger problem of university leadership (at all levels) that fails to meet its ethical liabilities. He outlines a number of potential causes for the patterns of unethical behavior in higher education and also provides a few suggestions on how to overcome the challenges of this crisis.

Mel Fugate is an associate professor of Management and Organizations in the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University. His research and consulting aim to enhance individual and organizational performance by utilizing a variety of practical, research-based tools related to leadership development, organizational change, performance management, organizational culture, and employee engagement. His research and consulting span many industries (e.g., legal, energy, healthcare, information technology, and financial services) and often involve organizational assessments intended to measure the human resource health of organizations. He has published in and reviewed for a number of premier management and applied psychology journals and is a coauthor of a new book—“Organizational Behavior: A Practical, Problem Solving Approach.” Professor Fugate is an award-winning teacher who has taught in both the United States and France.