of Ethics |
truth in the academy |
We asked: What is ethical
leadership and what is its place in higher education?
Paulette Burns Director
Harris School of nursing
Paradoxically, ethical leadership at its
best is all about the leader and nothing about the leader. "All about
the leader" means the leader has probed the depths of self and knows self
This knowing includes personal values,
beliefs and attitudes; strengths and weaknesses, even flaws, as a human
being; and the underlying motivation for actions. The knowing is a continual
dialogue and examination of self to uncover new insights and revelations.
"Nothing about the leader" is the leader's
intentional focus on others rather than self in the acts and process of
leadership. It is the leader knowing enough about self and being willing
to forego the needs of self while giving of the whole self to something
larger than the self. Examples of
something larger are a profession, a career, a movement or an ideal.
True leaders hold leadership authority
because followers grant them the authority. Expertise in a designated
area of knowledge is a personal commodity that often attracts followers
and allows the expert to be in a position of leadership. Expertise by
itself is valueless. What one does with expertise makes it a leadership
endeavor involving ethics. Use and application of knowledge often require
making decisions in light of competing concerns that demand ethical reasoning.
Institutions of higher education exist
because society values the product -- an educated individual who can think
critically and act ethically. The TCU educational experience provides
myriad ethical leadership development strategies for students. Demanding
self-examination in concert with academic rigor from our students should
pave the way for TCU graduates to be ethical leaders in their personal
and professional lives.
DeanAddRan College of Arts and Sciences
Can we in
higher education teach leadership? I know that we can teach students ideas
about leadership and can analyze the lives and thoughts of leaders; I
know that we can coach students who are already budding leaders to hone
do we at TCU want to proclaim that our graduates are all leaders? I prefer
to focus on two other elements in our mission: educating students to behave
ethically and to understand responsible citizenship.
be taught to recognize ethical dilemmas and to apply disciplined moral
reasoning to those problems. We can teach how to think rationally about
being a good person and doing the right thing.
also be taught what is involved in responsible citizenship, which goes
beyond simple patriotism.
We can teach
students how to approach social, economic and political problems knowledgeably
and analytically. We can teach them how to present their concerns and
solutions effectively and to have an impact. Ethics is intrinsically intertwined
with citizenship, for responsible citizens not only monitor their own
moral behavior, but also that of their leaders in politics, business,
the arts, education, medicine and science.
If we instill
the traits of ethical analysis and informed citizenship in our students,
those who assume leadership positions can be counted on to behave ethically.
More importantly, those leaders will be held accountable by knowledgeable
and engaged people if they violate the trust placed in them.
joke that doctors bury their mistakes, lawyers see theirs go to jail,
and journalists put theirs on the front page for thousands of people to
if they're broadcast journalists, they air their mistakes for millions
of people. And if they're PR practitioners or advertising professionals,
their mistakes are similarly public and sometimes get dissected by the
communications professionals work in our culture's most public arena,
an environment of daily ethical dilemmas -- and always on deadline. TCU's
journalism faculty realize that we are preparing students for a high-pressure
world where ethical pitfalls are common and mistakes costly. For us, the
University's mission of preparing ethical decision-makers is very real,
because the stakes are so high.
include one of the nation's best-known journalism ethicists, professional-in-residence
Phil Record. But we believe that the real key to developing ethical decision-makers
lies not in a stand-alone ethics class but in examining ethical implications
in all of our skills areas, the places where working professionals must
make the decisions that impact all of society.
So our mission
is not to teach "the answers" but to teach students to reason through
ethical dilemmas to responsible choices.
How are we
doing? Better than many people realize. After all, when mass communications
practitioners make ethical mistakes, everyone knows.
never know about the thousands of times we made those deadline decisions
in ways that served both the public's right to know and the best ethical
standards of our professions.
Chair, Department of Political Science
is the cornerstone of good governance. As a scholar of the American presidency,
I examine political leadership, which involves far more than simply choosing
"right" or "moral" positions.
leadership has to do with defining aspirational goals and accommodating
differences among people while helping to guide a nation toward defining
shared values such as justice, fundamental fairness, opportunity, security,
liberty and equality. When shared values conflict, as they inevitably
will, the duty of an ethical leader is to ensure that difficult decisions
are made, moving toward aspirational goals without discarding core values.
Making choices between those values is not always appropriate. Rather,
finding imaginative ways to accommodate competing values is essential.
of a liberal arts education is that it allows students to become conversant
with the intellectual and historical underpinnings of civilizations. It
forces students to confront complexities in human interactions rather
than simply trying to pick one political position over another.
In the United
States, such an education guides the nation on its democratic path, allowing
it to aspire to the proposition, as Abraham Lincoln declared in his Gettysburg
Address, that "government of the people, by the people, and for the people
shall not perish from the earth."
Professor of Political Science
requires a fundamental commitment to the truth. In debating public policy,
it is too easy to trim the truth to fit the audience. When leaders make
arguments that they know (or should know) to be untrue or misleading,
rational discourse is made impossible.
also requires that legitimate counterarguments be taken into account.
To do that is to respect both the democratic process and one's opponents.
Unfortunately, commitments to the truth and respect for both the democratic
process and for political adversaries are exceptional in American politics.
there are times when it is appropriate to remain silent. These instances
usually involve considerations of confidentiality, privacy or avoidance
of personal attacks that have nothing to do with real issues.
commitment to the truth makes civility and rational discourse possible
and builds a cornerstone for seeking to solve problems rather than simply
scoring points or winning votes.
Director, Center for Professional Communication,
M.J. Neeley School of Business
At its most
basic, ethical leadership is doing what is right, fair and decent, and
setting an example for doing so. In my opinion, this requires five activities:
1) recognizing what is right, fair and decent; 2) acknowledging to others
that which is right, fair and decent; 3) acting according to what is right,
fair and decent; 4) expecting others to do likewise; and 5) rewarding
them for doing so.
it's too much to ask that our society, in its ever-expanding secularism,
fully embrace these principles. Likewise, as research clearly shows, it
is too much to expect that most students arrive on our campus already
practicing these principles.
So I believe
that, as an institution of higher learning established on Christian tenets,
TCU has both the freedom and the responsibility to address ethical leadership
as a nuclear purpose for its educational programming.
way to make a positive impact on our nation and our world than to develop
generations of leaders who are prepared to support, both personally and
publicly, that which is right, fair and decent?
Director of TCU Leadership Center
In the era
of Enron, human cloning, and reality T.V., students are faced with ethical
questions on a daily basis. Yet, the need for ethical leadership goes
of higher learning, it is our responsibility not only to raise this question,
but also prepare students for the ethical situations they will face upon
graduation. Rather than simply dictate to students what is "right" and
"wrong", at TCU, students are expected to continually assess the ethical
dimensions of their individual, professional and civic lives through continual
self-exploration, examination of ethical systems and theories of decision-making,
and, most importantly, through practical application.
by the TCU mission statement and the new academic core, the role of the
university is to provide students with curricular and co-curricular experiences
that will teach them to critically analyze information in an ethical manner
and provide them with the practical skills necessary to put ethical leadership
such a holistic framework in which students can both learn and practice
how to become ethical leaders, universities are certain to produce effective
citizen leaders -- a long-standing goal of American higher education.