Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Plato on Virtuous Leadership: An Ancient Model for Modern Business

  • David C. Bauman (a1)
Abstract:

The business ethics and leadership literature has paid little attention to the analysis of virtue in the Socratic dialogues, but Plato’s account of virtue and persuasion offer relevant insights for business leaders. In the Republic, Plato’s description of five types of leaders offers a new perspective on leadership selection and development using the moral psychology of both virtuous and non-virtuous leaders. In this article, I explain Plato’s account of virtue and knowledge, his three-part moral psychology, the four cardinal virtues that virtuous leaders develop, and his continuum of five leader types. I apply Plato’s model to leadership issues in today’s corporate world and explain how the model can guide leaders, board members, and investors.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Plato on Virtuous Leadership: An Ancient Model for Modern Business
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Plato on Virtuous Leadership: An Ancient Model for Modern Business
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Plato on Virtuous Leadership: An Ancient Model for Modern Business
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
References
Hide All
Audi, R. 2012. Virtue ethics as a resource in business. Business Ethics Quarterly, 22: 273291.
Bauman, D. C. 2017. The drive to virtue: A virtue ethics account of leadership motivation. In Sison, A. J. G., Beabout, G. R., & Ferrero, I. (Eds.), Handbook of virtue ethics in business and management: 961971. Netherlands: Springer.
Bloomberg News. 2010. Conviction upheld for ex-KPMG exec John Larson in tax shelter case. Los Angeles Times, August 27. http://articles.latimes.com/2010/aug/27/business/la-fi-kpmg-20100827.
Boone, M. 2011. The unity of the virtues and the degeneration of the kallipolis. Apeiron, 44(2): 131146.
Boston, W. 2016. Volkswagen begins recall of diesel cars in Europe. The Wall Street Journal, January 28. http://www.wsj.com/articles/volkswagen-begins-recall-of-diesel-cars-in-europe-1453996552.
Brancaccio, D. 2016. Former BP CEO John Browne emphasizes the long term. Marketplace.org, June 15. https://www.marketplace.org/2016/06/09/economy/price-profits/former-bp-ceo-emphasizes-long-term.
Buffett, W. 2011. Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. shareholder letter 2010. http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/letters/2010ltr.pdf.
Buffett, W. 2016. Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. shareholder letter 2015. http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/letters/2015ltr.pdf.
Clark, J. 2015. Socrates, the primary question, and the unity of virtue. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 45(4): 445470.
Collins, J. 2001. Good to great. New York: HarperCollins.
Collins, J. 2009. How the mighty fall and why some companies never give in. New York: Harper Collins.
Cooper, J. M. 1984. Plato’s theory of human motivation. History of Philosophy Quarterly, 1(1): 321.
Goodpaster, K. 1989. Ethical imperatives in corporate leadership. In Andrews, K. R. (Ed.) Ethics in practice: Managing the moral corporation: 212228. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Press.
Hursthouse, R. 1999. On virtue ethics. New York: Oxford University Press.
Internal Revenue Service. 2005. KPMG to pay $456 million for criminal violations. August 29. https://www.irs.gov/uac/kpmg-to-pay-456-million-for-criminal-violations.
Irwin, T. 1995. Plato’s ethics. New York: Oxford University Press.
Kahneman, D. 2011. Thinking fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Klein, S. 1993. Business ethics: Reflections from a platonic point of view. New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc.
Lustgarten, A. 2012. Run to failure: BP and the making of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
Newton, L. H. 1986. The internal morality of the corporation. Journal of Business Ethics, 5: 249258.
Parry, R. 2014. Ancient ethical theory. In Zalta, E. N. (Ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2014 edition). http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-ancient/.
Philippoussis, J. 1999. The question of Plato’s notion of ‘leadership’ in the Republic. Phronimon, Vol 1(1): 109143.
Reeve, C. D. C. 1988. Philosopher kings: The argument of Plato’s Republic. New Haven, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Rowe, C. 2007. The place of the Republic in Plato’s political thought. In Ferrari, G. R. F. (Ed.) The Cambridge companion to Plato’s Republic: 2754. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Rozenberg, J. 2017. Lord Brown resigns after revelations he lied in court about gay lover. The Telegraph, May 1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1550172/Lord-Browne-resigns-after-revelations-he-lied-in-court-about-gay-lover.html.
Sadler-Smith, E. 2012. Before virtue: Biology, brain, behavior, and the ‘moral sense.’ Business Ethics Quarterly, 22: 351376.
Santas, G. 1971. Socrates at work on virtue and knowledge in Plato’s Laches. In Vlastos, G. (Ed.) The philosophy of Socrates: 177208. New York: Anchor Books.
Schroeder, A. 2009. The snowball: Warren Buffett and the business of life. New York: Bantam Books.
Sison, A. J. G. 2003, The moral capital of leaders: Why virtue matters. Northampton, MA: Edgar Elgar Publishing Inc.
Sison, A. J. G., & Fontrodona, J. 2012. The common good in the firm in the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition. Business Ethics Quarterly, 22: 211246.
Sison, A. J. G., Hartman, E. M., & Fontrodona, J. 2012. Reviving tradition: Virtue and the common good in business and management. Business Ethics Quarterly, 22: 207210.
Suttell, S. 2016. Brutal efficiency, strong numbers mark a Warren Buffett company with NE Ohio operations. Crains Cleveland Business, August 3. http://www.crainscleveland.com/article/20160803/BLOGS03/160809937/brutal-efficiency-strong-numbers-mark-a-warren-buffett-company-with.
Swanton, C. 2005. Virtue ethics: A pluralistic view. New York: Oxford University Press.
Tabuchi, H., & Ewing, J. 2016. VW engineer pleads guilty in U.S. criminal case over diesel emissions. The New York Times, September 9. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/10/business/international/vw-criminal-charge-diesel.html.
Vlastos, G. 1991. Socrates: Ironist and moral philosopher. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Web, T. 2010. BP’s Sun King Lord Browne reveals his darker side. The Guardian, February 8. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2010/feb/08/bp-lord-browne-memoirs.
Wieczner, J. 2014. Warren Buffett on his biggest weakness. Fortune, May 6. http://fortune.com/2014/05/06/warren-Buffettt-on-his-biggest-weakness/.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Business Ethics Quarterly
  • ISSN: 1052-150X
  • EISSN: 2153-3326
  • URL: /core/journals/business-ethics-quarterly
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score