Monday, October 29, 2007

Preparing Young Leaders: The Future of America

National Conference on Ethics
in America
(Part 4 of 5)

Tuesday began with a plenary session by Dr. Dana G. Mead, Chairman of the MIT Corporation. Dr. Mead is a 1957 West Point graduate, former Presidential Commissioner on White House Fellowships and the first Professor of the Practice of Leadership at MIT.

Enterprises of Character

"Business in America is no more ethical or unethical than other elements in society."

Dr. Mead, in his presentation on Enterprises of Character, stressed that trust, based on ethical reputation, must be inseparable from good business and that illegal, immoral or unethical acts can never be justified.

"Ethics must be the driving force behind any good company and leadership awards should be conferred upon those who exhibit high standards of moral and ethical behavior."

Dr. Mead also emphasized that an ethical, honest, and completely transparent, organization must be the goal of an organization, especially since globalization allows American companies to reflect values not only domestically but internationally. According to Dr. Mead, there are three major challenges of an enterprise in regard to ethical behavior:

  1. Profits
  2. Executive Compensation
  3. Conditioning the Public Market

Despite these challenges, a culture of character, integrity and ethics must be a business’ foundation. Dr. Mead quoted Marcus Aurelius in summarizing the call to ethics,

"Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one."

Transformational Character

Dan Clark, the primary contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and author of twenty of his own best selling books, was the next plenary speaker. Dan is a motivational speaker who has flown in fighter jets at twice the speed of sound, carried the Olympic torch in the 2002 games, and spoken to military personnel all over the world.

Mr. Clark gave an emotional presentation calling the audience to appreciate the values of America and to be dedicated to changing society through personal commitment. He stressed the following points during his presentation:

  • One needs only to make a commitment one time. It should never have to be made again because one should always keep their word.
  • Character is expressed most clearly when no one else is around.
  • Character must be cultivated and developed. It can never be bought but unfortunately it can easily be sold.
  • Always take the higher ground.
  • Be dedicated to change and have the courage to be better than you have ever been.
  • Crisis can never break a leader. It brings the leader the opportunity to rise to the occasion.
  • Integrity begins with self-respect.
  • Character is always more important than popularity.
  • Trials are always an opportunity to grow stronger.

Empowering the Future Leader

After these two plenary sessions, student leaders met for the round table discussion and shared profound insights during a highly empowering discussion which included:

  • Aside from American colleges, society itself needs an honor code and people of character must set the example.
  • America must make a commitment to change and all must make sacrifices.
  • Ethical society is impossible without ethical people.
  • The courage to serve is the nation's recipe for success.
  • Perseverance is required as the driving force behind transformational leadership.
  • Social responsibility is rooted in personal responsibility.
  • Leaders must be aware of a balcony mentality that others look up to them for guidance and example.
  • There is always a way to do the right thing.
  • Ethical behavior must be practical not just discussed.
  • Inspiring others through public acts of character is great motivator.
  • Ethical courage inspires the first step which is always the move in the right direction.
  • Success in life is guaranteed by ethical behavior and prevents having regrets.

We would do well to remember the words of John Adams, founding father and second president of the United States:

"The people have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge — I mean of the character and conduct of their rulers."


Preparing Young Leaders: The Future of America – Part 1 of 5 Click here to visit site
Preparing Young Leaders: The Future of America – Part 2 of 5 Click here to visit site
Preparing Young Leaders: The Future of America – Part 3 of 5 Click here to visit site
Preparing Young Leaders: The Future of America – Part 4 of 5 Click here to visit site
Preparing Young Leaders: The Future of America – Part 5 of 5 Click here to visit site
National Conference on Ethics in America Click here to visit site

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