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Warren Buffett on Business: Principles from the Sage of Omaha by Richard J. Connors

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17.1. Cynthia Milligan Interview

Warren:

The best ethical leadership people receive is from their parents. Every kid wants heroes, and they may pick the wrong ones. The natural heroes are the parents. Kids usually emulate their parents, and if the parents behave well, the kids are very, very likely to behave well. I think that what you do at school by emphasizing ethical values is that you will keep those kids on track and pull in a few that aren't.

Cynthia:

What about the value of good leadership skills and ethics in business?

Warren:

I have seen plenty of people succeed that don't have either one. And I have also seen an awful lot of people succeed that do; and those are the ones I admire and they are the ones I want to associate with. Honesty is a terrific policy. What do you look back on in terms of whether you have been a success? You have certain things you want to achieve, but if you don't have the love and respect of people, you are always a failure. That is the one thing you must earn, it can never be bought. No one that has the love and respect of others is ever a failure.

Cynthia:

A donor gave us $1 million to develop an ethics program, and every year he asks us if we really think this makes a difference. I agree with you, often the students come with high ethical standards, but what we are doing is exposing them to some ethical issues that might trip them up at some point in their career. We want them to understand the issues and understand they can influence those ...

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