The corporate world has had its fair share of scoundrel CEOs, characteristically seen in the case of Enrons Ken Lay and Jeff

Ethical Leadership



The corporate world has had its fair share of scoundrel CEOs, characteristically seen in the case of Enron’s Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling in 2003. This is largely because competition is increasingly high and to success sometimes calls for unscrupulous actions. For this reason, it is not often you find corporate executives with ethical attributes. However, Greg Steinhafel, the Chief Executive Officer of Target, has managed to exceed expectations in this regards. Steinhafel became Target’s CEO in the years 2008, when the great global financial crunch had taken its tall on economies the world over. The company was recording sinking sales figures because of depression. In spite of this, Steinhafel decided to stand by the Retail company’s longstanding tradition of donating 5 per cent of it’s earnings to charity. This was perhaps the most ethical act, especially in the face of such magnitude of financial difficulty.

Steinhafel is an ethical leader not just because of this single decision he made in the face of financial crisis, but also because of his personality. He is non-partisan and respects every individual’s or group’s rights and freedoms. During an in-house dispute with a major shareholder in 2009, he made sure to win the legal battle to protect other shareholders, but still went on to shake hands with the renegade shareholder. Further in 2011, in the face of a controversy over a donation the company made to an anti-gay politician, Steinhafel approved an increase in donations for gay-rights groups to total approximately more than half a million US dollars. These attributes proved his moral fibers and non-partisan nature.

Individually, I admire Steinhafel’s giving heart and ability to look at other human beings for who they are rather than what they have. In the face of a global financial recession, it would have been easier to stop the donations to charity all together, in order to cut on costs. Steinhafel’s decision to continue with this cause despite the difficulties is an attribute I would like to emulate in my life.