External challenges faced by business leaders

Business leaders face many challenges today; however, these challenges can be traversed with the correct application of the seven virtues. Currently, business leaders face several issues including how to navigate diversity in the workforce, making tough decisions on healthcare reform, and the growing presence of a one world market. Upholding civic responsibilities in both their home markets and those of the world requires great fortitude and remarkable character.

Leaders are not born, they are made and character is built on virtuous decision making and action. Learning to be a great leader requires the development of the seven virtues: courage, hope, justice, prudence, temperance, love, and faith. We will explore how these virtues apply to the challenges identified and how they will assist in guiding towards a solution while remaining moral, ethical, and responsible leaders. One issue that business leaders face today is the globalization of world markets.

The business world is flattening and leaders are constantly monitoring the cost and benefits of operating or manufacturing overseas. Due to modern technology and the speed and efficiency of travel, it is sometimes more profitable for an organization to outsource manufacturing, thus taking jobs from America and hiring cheaper labor overseas. Business leaders are forced to consider the monetary benefit of globalization while also upholding their moral obligations to the people losing their jobs due to outsourcing.

In this situation, it may be difficult for leaders to demonstrate all of the virtues simultaneously because they will conflict with one another. For instance, it may be prudent to outsource the work and make more money for the company, but this decision may also be neglecting the virtues of love and justice. Is it right to lay off hundreds of hard working citizens in order to exploit cheaper labor in other countries? These are the types of ethical challenges that leaders face due to the globalization of world markets and focusing on virtues helps to direct decisions.

Perhaps due to the effects of globalization, diversity in the workplace continues to rise and leaders are challenged to manage the cultural differences and encourage equality and unity. With many language barriers, cultural differences, leadership styles, and work ethics colliding in one facility, leaders must set a strong example and guide others into a more tolerant and understanding frame of mind. In order to accomplish this, leaders will need the courage to be prudent when hiring and considering for promotions.

They will need to act with justice and make decisions based on job performance. They will need to be temperate in order to keep their own personal bias from effecting decision making. If they are loving of their employees as they should be, temperance levels will increase as a result. If these leaders choose to act with virtue, they will build unity across the cultures and form a stronger team unit. Another challenge currently facing employers is the new healthcare reform known as Obamacare. Due to new laws, all citizens are required to carry health insurance or pay large fines.

Additionally, all employers with 50 employees are more are required to offer acceptable, preselected health insurance coverage. The challenge for small business leaders presents when determining if it is still profitable to operate after the health care expense is deducted from their profits. Some will choose to expand operations and increase employee numbers in order to stay in business, but others will choose to shut-down as they will be unable to balance the two demands. Leaders faced with this dilemma will need the prudence to seek and make wise decisions.

Choosing to shut-down may be the prudent business decision, but this will conflict with love because the employees will lose their jobs as a result. If the business chooses to expand, it will require courage and hope in order to proceed. Each of these issues presents a challenge to the virtues and character of business leaders today. For these challenges, the most dominant virtue is prudence. Seeking wisdom and information when deciding a path forward is often the first step, and a wise decision may then call to address additional virtues.

Business challenges present many tough decisions, and by careful consideration and examination of all potential outcomes leaders are more likely to choose the path that will be most beneficial for all involved. Another common thread is love, because caring for people and not just profit is important as well. In order to balance prudence and love, temperance is necessary. In all challenges, leaders need courage to address disagreement and act according to their plans. Leadership is a challenging role and developing quality of character will lead to virtuous decision making, creating trustworthiness and setting an example worthy of following.

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