Can We Talk About Ethics?
Reflecting on the Masters of Arts in Ethical Leadership
at Claremont Lincoln University
by Jay McDaniel
Yes, we can talk about ethics.
It's very important: the online Masters of Arts of Ethical Leadership at Claremont Lincoln University.
It will not turn leaders into people they don't want to become; it will help them become who they already want to become.
Most leaders I know already want to be ethical. They want to be helpers. They have entered into public service because they have ambitions of their own but also because they want to help make the world a better place.
This is the kind of leader that comes to mind as I watch the video above. As I watch it, I think of some of my own leaders: the president of the United States, the governor of my state, a friend who works for a large investment firm, the chair of the board of directors at the college where I teach, the director of a nearby hospital, the manager of a local department store, the minister of a church I attend, and my mayor. All of them want to be ethical leaders and many of them embody this kind of leadership in various ways.
Take, for example, my mayor. I voted for him. I never worked on his campaign. I just like him. When people from different walks of life are in his presence, he comes across -- and is -- a good listener. He is "mindful" in an almost Buddhist sense. He is not distracted by other things, he is present to us. He leads by listening.
As people like me have have gotten to know him, he strikes us, not as someone who is versed in various wisdom traditions across the ages, but as someone who would very much like to be. After all, my small city in a small southern state is multi-cultural and multi-religious. My mayor wants to have the kind of literacy we now expect and need from so many of our leaders: world religion literacy and global cultural literacy. When there are disputes in our city, as there always are, he seems to know how to help us resolve our conflicts, or live with the fact that we cannot resvlve them. He knows a lot about city planning and helps guide our city in needed ways, having the humility to learn from other cities that are much more progressive than we are. I think he would be a great candidate for this program.
The Program at Claremont Lincoln University
Turn to the webpage for the Masters of Arts in Ethical Leadership and you'll see what I mean. Here's part of what you will read:
"The program begins with a rigorous personal assessment and introduces you to leading-edge practices for self-awareness and mindfulness. You then learn about leadership and decision-making from various wisdom traditions across the ages (Eastern and Western, religious and humanistic). By the end of the program, you will possess concrete skills—such as conflict resolution, communication, and management in diverse settings—for putting timeless wisdom to work in your professional context. As a graduate of this program, you will have access to the knowledge and skills to lead more effectively in a diverse and changing world and positively influence those around you."...more
I don't know if Mayor Townsell will sign up for this program. No pressure, good mayor; you've got a lot on your plate. But I can guarantee that he'd like to sign up for it, and I would want him to sign up, too, so that he could become an even better mayor.
I want to be led by the kind of ethical leader Claremont Lincoln University has in mind. And so do many, many others in different parts of the world, including those who read JJB. Some of us are Muslim, some Jewish, some Christian, some Buddhist, some Hindu. Some of us live in the East, some in the West, some in Latin America, some in Africa. But we want to help and be helped by ethical leaders: that is, by people who are empathic, creative, thoughtful, problem-solvers, and who are literate in the world's religions and cultural diversity.
The World as a Community of Communities
In truth, many of us want leaders who have a bigger picture of world affairs. We are weary of a parochialism that hides from larger global needs in the interests of short-term profit or small-minded flattery. We are weary of leaders who haven't awakened to the fact that we live on a small but gorgeous planet and that, in fact, we human beings, along with the other creatures, are all in it together. We want leaders with planetary consciousness.
I see this in my mayor. He wants to be a citizen of the planet, and not just a citizen of Conway, Arkansas. We need leaders like him: leaders who are committed not only to the particularized good of the communities they serve, but also to the common good of the world.
We need it desperately! That's why, in this website, devoted to explorations of process thinking, we have a section called Planet Beauty. We want to encourage respect and care for the whole community of life and to encourage an embodiment of that respect in local settings.
Leadership for the Common Good of the Planet
In Ten Ideas for Saving the Planet, John B. Cobb, Jr. proposes that the world we rightly seek today is a community of communities of communities, each of is sustainable in two senses. It can be sustained into the indefinite future, given the limits of the earth to supply resources and absorb waste, and it provides sustenance for life, material and spiritual. A sustainable community is a community that is creative, compassionate, equitable, participatory, ecologically wise, and spiritually satisfying -- with no one left behind. It is multi-religious and multi-ethnic. It celebrates rather than hides from diversity, both human and ecological.
Can the Masters of Arts in Ethical Leadership at Claremont Lincoln University help people become leaders for sustainable community? We are hopeful.
I know of no other university on the planet that has the vision to undertake such an experiment. I celebrate and support it. I hope readers of JJB will consider participating in it.
Yes, we can talk about ethics.