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Western News | August 4, 2010

mary crossan
Professor of Business Policy at Ivey Business School

The aftermath of the recent financial crisis has prompted much reflection on who or what was to blame with criticism directed toward regulators, banking institutions, government officials and corporate executives.

Recent research from Mary Crossan, Professor of Business Policy at the Richard Ivey School of Business, illustrates flawed leadership was a critical factor in this global crisis.

Over the past nine months, Crossan, along with her colleagues Gerard Seijts, Jeffrey Gandz and Ivey PhD candidate and Trudeau Scholar Daina Mazutis, interviewed more than 300 senior leaders in Canada, U.S., U.K., Europe and Asia to try and determine how leadership failed during the crisis and what we can learn.

Their findings will be released Sept. 21 at a launch for their book, Leadership on Trial. The research will also help to shape leadership teaching at Ivey and leadership development in organizations.

“The words ‘character’ and ‘ethics’ kept coming up,” says Crossan, who is former Director of the Leading Cross-Enterprise Research Center at Ivey. “But there was a lot of confusion about what character really meant, and whether it was something that could be learned.”

Crossan and her colleagues have been doing subsequent research to examine character and its fundamental role in decision-making. They propose that a stronger values based orientation anchored in character development is necessary to offset the extraordinary and often complex and ambiguous set of pressures leaders face.

When considering what led to the financial crisis, the Ivey team says many leaders lacked moral awareness. Even in hindsight, some leaders refuse to accept responsibility, instead blaming the crisis on “the system” or “complexity,” says Crossan.

“We’re hoping the leadership teaching we give our students and managers can help them learn about the importance of character and how to deepen it,” says Crossan.

Read the complete story: Western News

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