I met Rob Taylor, CEO of Kleinwort Benson, in his offices in the city. Rob is the CEO of a private bank and, to that end, the subject of virtue is a topical one.
Rob believes that virtuous behaviour is living according to a set of values that have a positive impact on society. To that end, virtue is not a static concept but one that changes with time as societal norms and standards change. He has enormous respect for people who live according to their values, resolving conflicts where possible but, in the end, not giving in to pressures to make decisions that compromise their own beliefs.
Seeing virtue in action evokes feelings of kindliness and respect for the other person. Behaving in a virtuous manner - that is upholding his own values especially when it comes to making decisions - causes him to feel proud of himself and comfortable in his own skin. He thinks about virtue actively especially when it comes to making decisions. In decision making he constantly weighs up the possible outcomes of different decisions and reflects these outcomes back to his own value system, trying contantly to make decisions that enable him to uphold his values. He realises that his values are sometimes are in conflict with the values of others and sees virtue in trying to resolve that conflict and come to a shared decision.
Rob has continued to develop his value system throughout his life. He went to a church school and had a family who actively discussed right and wrong; good and bad. He enjoys discussing these kinds of ideas and has always surrounded himself with supportive people who share this interest. He believes that people are inherently virtuous and feels saddened and disappointed when he hears or reads of terrible events and bad behaviour. He believes the individual must make active choices to change their environment if they are surrounded by destructive and unsupportive people. Clearly this is often easier said than done, but the role of the individual and the choices we make are critical in embedding virtue. Individual's choices can be informed and supported by leaders - all kinds of leaders - who create virtuous organisations and role model virtuous behaviour. He encourages everyone to move out of their comfort zone from time to time to test and possibly change their values - seeking always to develop values that have a positive impact on others.
For more on the virtue project and links to other interview summaries, please see an earlier post: Behavioural Change: The Way out of this Mess? (for the virtue project)
Related Links: http://www.kleinwortbenson.com/
The whole interview will be available shortly. Please post a comment if you would like to hear it. Thanks.