The discussions that we have had thus far are geared towards helping us understand what it means to be an ethical leader. We all have our own definitions of what it means to be a leader. The definition we use for this program is:
Ethical Leader - Ethical leaders are leaders whose characters have been shaped by the wisdom, habits, and practices of particular traditions, often more than one, yet they tend to be identified with a particular ethos and cultural narrative. Ethical leadership, therefore, refers to the critical appropriation and embodiment of moral traditions that have historically shaped the character and shared meanings of a people (an ethos). Ethical leadership does not emerge from an historical vacuum, but arises from the life worlds of particular traditions and speaks authoritatively and acts responsibly with the aim of serving the collective good. Finally, ethical leadership asks the question of values in light of the reference to ultimate concern.”
To become Ethical Leaders we have focused on three major themes: Character, Civility and Community.
Character - Increase the understanding of identity, purpose, calling and competency in personal skills and practices
Civility- Foster the ability to negotiate public leadership roles with competency and skill and to engage in just and loving acts in public space
Community- Facilitate the cultivation of loving and just relationships with one’s self, society and spirit. In other words, we strive to act in such a way that the Beloved Community becomes both the goal and the process of all our desires and actions
Since this program started in October of last year, we have engaged in several activities that are related to these themes.
Memory- The story of Maynard Jackson was used to introduce the importance of memory in forming the basis for one’s moral, ethical, and spiritual insight. We learned about Maynard Jackson as a character in a larger narrative that is ongoing. Jackson is not merely a figure of the past, but an intimate part of our lives today. What he did and what his family and friends continue to do, affects us in the present. If we remember his story, we learn more about our own stories. We also did a memory exercise through journaling where we saw ourselves as characters in a larger narrative. We identified the plot, major actors, and defining moments in our own lives. Through this process we were able to see the differences and similarities in our stories.
The Intersection where Worlds Collide - We are all at an intersection where worlds are colliding. The two worlds are Life worlds and System worlds. It is our job as Ethical Leaders to stand up and negotiate the traffic. Life worlds are marked traditions, family costumes, and moral practices (Church, school, friends, family). These are the things that we hold dear to our hearts. System worlds are concerned primarily with power and money (Government agencies, Bureaucracy, Corporations). System worlds are not concerned with our Life worlds. Therefore, the two worlds often collide. This is NOT a discussion on good versus evil. But, rather a comment on the need for ethical leaders to understand both worlds.
Story - Plato’s Allegory of the Cave - We used this famous allegory to explain how ethical leaders must learn to ask the big questions about the nature of reality. Sometimes the system world is at work and we don’t even know it. The ethical leader’s job is to discover the truth and spread the word.
Ethical leaders must Remember, Retell and Relive stories. The story of Maynard Jackson was our first story. We also discussed The story of Isis and Osiris. This story taught us that leaders must learn to love so that when we engage the “other” we see that person as part of us, not as an alien (Civility). Each person is bound to the Other in a deep and fundamental respect. This union is what informs one’s identity. When we love and acknowledge our interconnectedness we are engaging in the Beloved Community.
We also told the story of Andy the Ant. This story taught us three philosophies of life: Individualism, Gangsta, and the Ethical Leader.
Individualism - What is mine is mine, and I will keep it!
Gangsta - What is yours is mine, and I will take it!
Ethical Leader - what is mine is yours, and we will share it!
Masks - We all have masks. These masks are the different personalities that we wear in different situations. We wear these masks to protect us from ourselves and those around us. It is often very difficult to understand who we really are inside. However, for the ethical leader, it is of the utmost importance to understand our masks and why we wear them so that we can be whole. When we can finally unveil what is underneath the mask, we will have started the path towards practicing integrity.