Posts Tagged ‘monkeys’

Monkeys have a sense of morality

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Frans de Waal, a scientist from Emory University in Georgia has discovered that monkeys and apes have an innate sense of fairness, are prepared to help one another and will do so even when there is no apparent reward.  It is a fascinating study.  It is important because it contradicts previous ideas that morality was solely a human preserve, that it was, in fact, a defining characteristic.

I blogged the other day about the importance of values in corporate decision making.  Our values as individuals have a key function in helping guide our actions.  Unfortunately, if we don’t feel able to act according to our own values this can lead to stress.  It is unfortunate at a personal level, but if one has a general misalignment between the values of the team and business then this leads not only to stress but also to resistance.

If even our primitive cousins have a sense of fair play, then how much more important is it that leaders actions are perceived as fair?  If a decision is at risk of being seen as ‘unfair’ then it is crucial that the leader takes the time to communicate what underpins it so that people can understand his/her rationale.

“I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.”   Ernest Hemingway

“Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.”    Aristotle