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September 16, 2010 at 9:24 pm #139916JaxKeymaster
Ok, I may have exaggerated a bit but from what I read in this article this guy had a huge hand in creating ethical leadership training in the US. I thought this was a really interesting article and makes me wish I was still at UT to take some of these classes. While leadership in general is more easy to get training in through workplaces or schools, ethical leadership is an even more rare thing. I found myself enjoying this article so I wanted to share it since it’s an important part of the Jedi path. The article is found here Here’s part of the article (really long so I’m not putting it all here.)
A Warriors Last Stand
Vietnam War hero and LBJ School professor Howard Prince, PhD ’75, transformed leadership training at the United States Military Academy and launched the country’s first-ever civilian undergraduate degree program in leadership at the University of Richmond. Now he’s fighting the final battle of his career — trying to convince The University of Texas that leaders aren’t just born, they’re made
by Tim Taliaferro
From his hospital bed, Captain Howard Prince had a clear view of the TV screen as President Lyndon Johnson came on to address the nation. It was March 31, 1968, and the war in Vietnam was going badly. Prince knew. He’d been downrange, fighting in the rice paddies and marshes of Southeast Asia. Five weeks before, during the Tet Offensive, Prince was leading an assault to relieve the Marines caught in the city of Hue when a mortar round landed virtually on top of him, shattering his right ankle, snapping his right tibia, and blasting open his whole right side.
When his commander-in-chief started speaking, Prince forced himself to sit up. Johnson’s address lasted just six minutes, at the end of which he announced something only he and Lady Bird knew beforehand — that he would not seek re-election. The war, he seemed to Prince to be saying, had been a mistake. The news landed like a mortar, and for Prince, it cut deeper than all the shrapnel that surgeons had pulled from his body.
“I was really angry at Johnson,” Prince remembers. “I felt betrayed. People I knew had been killed and wounded in Vietnam. I was in the hospital and didn’t know if I would ever walk again, ever use my right hand again.”
What Prince heard and felt that day spurred an interest in leadership and ethics that would come to define his career. Four decades later, Howard Prince, PhD ’75, teaches ethical leadership at the public policy school named for Johnson. There is perhaps no greater expert on leadership development in the country. No one has more profoundly altered the character and leadership training of the modern United States Army.
Now he’s fighting one last battle: trying to convince The University of Texas that the greatest service it can do for the nation is not just to educate tomorrow’s teachers, lawyers, businesspeople, and government workers, but also train them to lead — in a conscious and ethical way.
Define leadership. Go ahead and give it a shot. Notice the ancillary questions that pop up: Who is a leader? What makes for a good leader? How do leaders actually lead? Are they born or made? Leadership is one of those concepts, like art or beauty or love, so vast and nuanced that the best that language can do is poke at its meaning. Now try ethical leadership. Doubly slippery! What is ethical and to whom? How does one lead in an ethical way?
These questions reach back to antiquity. The Greeks, in their experiment with self-government, tried to figure out how best to select leaders. Plato believed only certain people were born to lead. Promising young men were to be sent to his academy, where he would shape them into elite philosopher kings to govern the republic. Aristotle went the other way, believing in a far more democratic version of leadership. All men were called on at certain times to serve in leadership roles, but when their terms ended, their responsibility was then to follow once again.
For millennia, philosophers have pondered the meaning of leadership but never systematically studied it. Only in the 20th century did psychologists and sociologists begin examining leaders and leadership using the scientific method.
In 1946, shortly after the end of World War II, then-Army chief of staff Dwight D. Eisenhower sent a letter to the superintendent of West Point urging that cadets be trained to lead. “Too frequently we find young officers trying empirical and ritualistic methods in the handling of individuals,” the former Supreme Allied Commander wrote. “I think that both theoretical and practical instruction along this line could, at the very least, awaken the majority of cadets to the necessity of handling human problems on a human basis and do much to improve leadership and personnel handling in the Army at large.”
Eisenhower would prove far ahead of his time. The Army, perhaps more than most institutions, changes with glacial reluctance. The leadership at West Point in the ’40s still subscribed to a system that since 1802 had been used for identifying leaders — trial by fire. It was tradition. It was Cro-Magnon.
First-year cadets, called plebes, faced ruthless hazing, intimidation, and physical punishment then. Their first summer, called Beast Barracks, was legendary for its sadism. The thought was by making life so hard for the plebes, they could separate those who had what it took to lead. The rest went home broken and humiliated. There was no developing of leaders.
Nevertheless, Eisenhower’s vision remained an idea at West Point, shut away but not forgotten. All it needed was the right timing and a champion who could make it a reality.
Howard Prince grew up in Belton, the oldest of four children. From early on, his father pushed him hard. Coming from one of the many farms swept away like dust in the Great Depression, his father, having received just a fourth-grade education, enlisted in the Army to make ends meet. He could intuit the value of the education he never got and used to quiz Howard on multiplication tables well into middle school. “He knew I needed to know math,” Prince says, “and that was the highest math he knew.” In high school, Prince used to shut himself in the bathroom with his books so as not to wake up his siblings as he studied late into the night.
At his father’s urging, Prince applied to West Point his senior year. In the last week of June, he still hadn’t heard back. He was set to attend Temple Junior College when a telegram arrived with instructions to report to West Point on July 1 with $300 for uniforms. Prince’s dad went out that day and borrowed the money to buy his son a plane ticket to New York and front him the $300.
Prince survived Beast Barracks and excelled at the über-competitive West Point. Back then, the school used to post the academic rank of each cadet every week. By the end of his plebe year, Prince was in the top 10 percent. By his third year, he had distinguished himself inside the classroom and out. He started to think about what part of the Army he wanted to pursue.
The answer was easy — infantry, where the toughest and most ambitious cadets often go. Prince graduated in the top 5 percent and was assigned to the prestigious 82nd Airborne division. Per West Point tradition, his first salute after the commencement ceremonies had to be to an enlisted soldier. Prince saluted his father.
As slippery as the concept of leadership might seem, elements of good leadership can be defined. Honesty, vision, competency, and devotion to followers rank among the most common traits people cite in leaders they admire. The effects of leadership can also be observed. Businesses invest in it because it helps the bottom line. In the military, good leadership saves lives and bad leadership leads to scandals.
At its heart, ethical leadership is a force that encourages followers’ best behavior and discourages their worst. George Orwell once said, “Most people wish to be good, but not all the time.” According to Prince, “Ethical leaders help people be good more of the time.” In a military setting, that means checking the human tendency toward violence; in academia, it’s resisting the pressure to score more highly that causes cheating; in business, it’s controlling greed.
On the first day of classes, Prince takes his LBJ School students on a thought experiment. Let’s say you’ve won a prestigious Presidential Management Internship in Washington, D.C., and your boss calls you in. She has a special project for you. She wants you to devise a strategy for the U.S. Postal Service to get out of the red and wants you to look at how to increase revenues by offering payday loans.
Prince asks for ideas, and the students throw themselves into the project, offering some basic ones at first but gradually developing more sophisticated and ambitious plans. Imagining their fake internships on the line and their fake boss offering them a chance to impress, the students bring all their ambition and creativity to the task. At the end, Prince makes his point. “I heard a lot of great ideas, but how come no one asked whether the postal service should be raising money on the backs of poor people? The first step in ethical leadership,” he says, “is recognizing when you’re facing an ethical dilemma.”
*** (continued at website)September 26, 2010 at 2:37 am #156059huffmanmParticipant
Great example. So often we leaders lose sight of the first question we should always ask when facing a challenge… “Is what I’m doing ethical/moral and for the good of the community as a whole?”
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