What is Ethical Leadership and why does it matter? I have to admit that this was one of my first thoughts when I first heard the vision of BYU Management Society is “Building Moral and Ethical Leadership Around the World”.
How can moral and ethical leadership change the world? Or a nation? Or a community, company or family? And if it can make a difference, how does one build moral and ethical leadership? I was curious about this organization and wondered what it offered me? What it offered our community?
Yet, the thought of having support in becoming more ethical intrigued me. Since the end of a BYU course where we had spirited discussions about ethical decision-making, I had longed for a group that could be a sounding board for the tough decisions I had to make in my life. Some ethical decisions are fairly clear, where the main support we need is courage to do what we already know is right. But some are not so clear and are known as ethical dilemmas. I’m sure you have experienced a tough spot where you could see that being true to one ethical principle would bring you in violation with another principle. Mankind has been struggling with this type of conflict from the time of Adam and Eve. It seems to be a necessary part of our existence, yet, for the universality of ethical dilemmas, most people don’t seem to have much support for sorting through them.
Thinking I might have found a supportive organization intrigued me. But I was pretty busy, so, at first I just attended an occasional lunch, and then an evening entertainment event. Before long I became a regular participant, and was soon a volunteer serving on the Executive Committee. With each interaction with the BYU Management Society I felt good. Here was a group of people who respect and strengthen each other, who encourage each other to act in their professional and personal lives with more integrity, who value moral and ethical behavior. When I had a difficult professional decision to make I considered what my Management Society friends would do in the same situation, which helped me to choose the more ethical option.
So being a part of BYU Management Society helped me become a more ethical and moral person. I saw the impact on my family and my business. And I saw it have a similar effect on others. I began to hear comments like this: “You know, the more we discuss ethics, the more I think about the ethics of daily decisions I make.” or “When we talk about ethical decisions, it forces me to take what I’ve learned on Sunday, and integrate it in my professional life the other days of the week.”
Just by discussing and considering ethics, this organization is changing us, building our moral and ethical decision making and leadership skills. It is changing our families, companies, and community. With a growing number of chapters of the BYU Management Society all around the globe, it will also change the world.
--Hanna Stewart-Longhurst, President
Ps. I just saw this insightful column in the New York Times which gives credibility to the concept of “moral elevation”, that just by association with other people of high moral behavior, we improve our behavior. I think you’ll find it very interesting.