Chapter 1 of Leadership and Ethics in Action

Introduction: The Purpose for Action

Ethics is simply, the concept of good and evil expressed through a set of values.

The desirability of learning and applying principles of leadership and ethics is unquestioned.
Here is a book that addresses this need directly.

Plato would turn in his grave, put on his jogging suit and do cartwheels around the cemetery, if he knew what modern academies teach.

A thoughtful observer might inform this apparition that today’s academies apply principles of a new democracy to educate the entire republic. This necessitates the design of convenient packages of knowledge that then are delivered enmass to stimulate and satisfy market needs. The same observer might add, “Indeed, more than two centuries later, education as a way of improving the human condition continues to provide fertile ground for platforms on which political campaigns are waged.”

The significance of leadership and ethics

Leadership is simply, the process of transforming dreams into reality. When actions of leadership are performed in an ethical manner, they are calledpurposeful actions. Of course there is more to action and ethics. For instance, some purposeful actions might not be considered acts of leadership. They might be acts of management, entrepreneurship, consulting, trusteeship or even intellectual and artistic expression.

Ethics is simply, “the concept of good and evil expressed through a set of values.” Ethics vary with time, place and circumstances. Thus, ethical actions here and now might be considered unethical someplace else now or even here sometime in the future. This certainly is true of the past. For evidence of this one need not travel beyond this land, or any land for that matter, on which natives once walked freely, sharing its bounties and striving to fulfill their needs and desires–without notions of ownership.

The desirability of learning and applying principles of leadership and ethics in our lives remains unquestioned. Students at all stages of life are exposed to inspiring and motivational speeches on these two related subjects. Such exposure might be in the form of lectures in academic courses, graduation speeches, or talks by visiting dignitaries. Hardly does a speech of this nature cross the medium between a student’s ears without addressing the importance of leadership and ethics, whether it is in the guise of national pride or family values. Leadership and ethics play pivotal roles in life and are among the implied, if not stated, goals of higher education. Parents, employers, community leaders and politicians share this belief. Here is a textbook that addresses this need directly.

Academic courses and textbooks provide the stones and bricks on which the edifice of a student’s knowledge is built. Lectures, notes, ancillary reading and research provide the missing links or mortar, so to say, with which the structure of a solid education is constructed. Links and mortar also are gathered through interactions between students and others outside classrooms and campuses. It is practically impossible to erect a strong and enduring building, no matter how small or unpretentious it may be, without these essential ingredients, the Inca stonemasons being rare exceptions. Leadership and ethics contribute to a balanced education

Modern systems of education are designed for delivering knowledge in discrete packages. Such systems might fail to provide the knowledge base necessary for integrating learning into meaningful education. The ideal knowledge base should include ways to learn from life and to apply the lessons learned to actions in a purposeful and ethical manner.

The purpose of this book is to provide such a knowledge base in a simple way. It presents a framework for action that can be understood easily and applied readily. The framework is based upon a simple philosophy constructed upon the postulate that life is the flow of actions. This philosophy, named “The Brook” after the flowing waters, was developed from deep introspection, extensive study of human actions and the author’s experiences.

To fulfill the mission of writing this book, the author first had to study and understand action from various perspectives. This necessitated study of the motivation for action, leading in turn to studies of systems of management, behavioral psychology, philosophy and theology–ancient as well as modern, eastern and western. This effort continued over a period of seven years. The work led first to the dissection of action and ethics into its basic elements. These elements were then reconstructed to form a system that could be easily understood and applied. This system has been named “The Framework for Purposeful Action.”

The teaching, learning and writing evolved eventually to the present textbook in an iterative manner, even though the basic stages of this process are presented below in a fairly chronological order:

· Understanding that action in life is linked inextricably with values and desires
· Dissection of action into twelve distinct steps, employing and extending classical management principles
· Regrouping of the twelve steps into three sequential phases
· Formulating a system of values based upon ancient wisdom, behavioral psychology, philosophy and personal experience
· Examining the motivation for human actions through the ancient concept of the four levels of desires, modern thought and the author’s experience
· Developing a systematic framework that integrates action, values and desires in a way that is easy to understood and apply
· Embedding vignettes inside a simple story to demonstrate the application of the framework.
Stating this in another way, “The mission of this book is to teach leadership and ethics in a simple way that can be readily put to practice.” Readers can apply the lessons learned immediately–to live purposeful and ethical lives. This implies change–for change is central to leadership.
This book should help all readers–regardless of how they wish to live and act. The links and mortar provided here should help–whether readers wish to live and act as leaders, entrepreneurs, managers, trustees, or as any other “archetype.”

Forming and fulfilling the mission for this book

This book teaches Purposeful Action in two ways.

· It presents the Framework for Purposeful Action through a modern summary of a series of lectures delivered in a distant setting in the past. The relevance of the contents of these lectures to modern life echoes the fundamental nature of the message.

· Through an engaging narrative, readers learn how the Framework can be applied by anyone who wishes to live purposefully. This is accomplished though stories and vignettes woven into the live of a contemporary designer of Internet software.

The materials for this textbook were developed initially to teach two graduate courses in “human factors” at a college of engineering and computer science. These courses were: technology leadership and entrepreneurship, and legal and ethical perspectives in business. After teaching the first session, it became apparent that no single textbook was available that covered the requirements for either course.

Many books on management and leadership were examined and considered. They covered overlapping attributes and aspects of leadership, but none covered all essential “steps” of action. Most were informative and well written. Some were entertaining as well. However, none of the books reviewed presented a system for action that readers could easily understand or readily apply.

The most glaring deficiency was discovered in the area of ethics. When these books considered ethics, and some even emphasized ethical behavior, such considerations were not woven into the fabric of action. That is to say, these books left open the issue of ethical choices. In other words, ethics were treated as ancillary considerations that could be addressed in parallel but independent of action.

Thus, unable to find a textbook that met student needs, the author decided to write one. The immediate challenge was, however, to prepare extensive notes to supplement lectures and class discussions. Students were not burdened with a textbook that met only part of their needs. The notes incorporated examples and stories covering most of what the author wished the students would learn. This is how the present book evolved.

The paramount distinction between other books on management and leadership and the present work is that here ethical considerations are woven inextricably into the fabric of all aspects and steps of action. This is true for the Twelve Steps of Purposeful Action as well as the Value System.

Students were required to read other books and journal articles and to present detailed critiques to the entire class. Assignments included presentation of profiles of leaders, entrepreneurs and managers, case studies of legal and ethical actions by individuals and organization, and research projects to develop and demonstrate an understanding of the issues involved. All assignments were conducted in the context of the Framework, using the Twelve Steps and the Value System as “templates.” This helped to authenticate and refine the Framework. The contents of this textbook reflect this learning.

Students across the undergraduate program found the Framework to be helpful. It was introduced to entering students in Freshmen Seminars and simultaneously to the entire Senior Class in the Capstone Senior Engineering Design Project.

Soon, the Framework for Purposeful Action was found applicable to financial and business planning. So, it was introduced in undergraduate courses in engineering economics and graduate courses in financial management.

Students apply the Framework to dissect action into twelve distinct interrelated steps. These steps are then used to select, perform and analyze action. While considering each step, the Value System reminds the individual of ethical considerations.

A mid-term exam for graduate students evolved into a software game named BrookMaster. This game predicts the relative propensity of an individual to act as a leader, a manager or as any of four other archetypes. The six archetypes collectively represent most of the people we encounter in the business world. The BrookMaster game also predicts the relative propensity of the player to act as a “giver or a “taker.” The game is posted on the author’s web site at Brookmaster is used extensively for learning the Framework, for self-evaluation and as a testing tool. Some organizations have used it for evaluating employees and for screening candidates.

The courses for which this textbook was written foster and encourage the development of leadership skills and high ethical standards. However, the Framework is constructed upon the broad foundation of management principles that govern all actions. To these principles, the Framework adds two important elements.

· By adding the first step–Introspection, the Framework enhances the traditional management model. Introspection is the basis for forming the vision and purpose for action. Thus, it is essential for effective leadership.

· The Value System is integrated explicitly into all phases of action–in all twelve steps. This allows individuals to weigh each step in the balance of giving and taking or ethical and unethical actions.

The universal concepts of giving and taking are used, in place of good and evil, or ethical and unethical actions. This has the advantage of reconciling relative viewpoints from differing perspectives, thereby reducing confusion and controversy. Giving actions are defined as those actions that help and enhance others. Similarly, taking actions harm and deprive others.

A study of leadership leads to a deeper philosophy of action.

In simple terms, the philosophy of the brook states that life is the flow of actions. From this it follows that the way our thoughts flow determines the condition of our mind. The converse also is true. That is to say, the condition of our mind effects and determines the way our thoughts flow. If we understand how thoughts lead to action, we might understand and influence the course of our actions. This might help us understand and influence the course of our lives, just as the flow of water determines the nature of the Brook.

The philosophy of the Brook teaches that actions are motivated by needs and desires. A system of four levels of desires derived from ancient Indian writings is integrated into the Framework. This forms the trilogy for the material journey in the Brook–action, values and desires.

Reaching into the spiritual aspects of our being, the philosophy of the Brook identifies the parallel trilogy of spark, resonance and flow. Together, the material and spiritual trilogies determine our journey in life and our growth as individuals.

What distinguishes this book from the novel on which it is based?

This textbook is based upon the philosophy described in “The Purpose and Meaning of Life: If I had known.” However, it differs in five important ways.

1. Four new chapters have been added to more explicitly explain the Framework for Purposeful Action and show how it is applied, the first of these being the present chapter. Astute readers will find that this chapter outlines the application of purposeful action in the author’s journey of writing–from vision to class notes to manuscript to trade book to textbook. In other words, Chapter 1 explains the author’s “Purpose for Action.” The Framework is explained in a series of lectures summarized in Chapter 2: The Framework for Purposeful Action: Leadership and Ethics in Action. The other two new chapters are, Chapter 9: Skydiving without a Parachute: Greed Risk and Ethics, and Chapter 12: Travelers in the Waters: Six Archetypes in the Business World.

2. Since Leadership and Ethics in Action is designed as a textbook, the lessons learned are summarized at the end of each chapter. Students may ponder and investigate these.

3. A comprehensive index at the end of the book links key words and key terms and phrases with every occurrence in the text. This detailed index can be used for quick and easy reference and for preparing notes and lectures based upon the text.

4. Instructors as well as students are served by the detailed course outline provided in the appendix. This outline consists of sixty instructional units organized in ten parts. This outline was developed and used by the author to teach two courses. One is a graduate course on management, leadership and entrepreneurship. The other is a course on legal and ethical perspectives in business. This book does not cover legal considerations. Instructors or seminar leaders may select and use combinations of the units outlined to teach one or two semester-length courses. They also could pick and choose pertinent units and supporting chapters to develop and deliver individual lectures or lead discussions.

5. Examples of the application of the Framework of Purposeful Action to quality control, corporate performance measurement and improvement, engineering design, and business and financial planning are provided in the appendix.

“Leadership and Ethics” has been widely applied and tested.

Many individuals have applied the philosophy of The Brook effectively. These applications have covered many aspects of life and actions in a variety of settings and formats. Some of these setting are:

· Freshman Orientation and Seminar Courses
· Senior Engineering Design
· Graduate courses in Leadership, Management, Entrepreneurship and Ethics
· Undergraduate and graduate courses in economics and financial management
· The author’s career as engineer, manager, executive, entrepreneur and consultant
· The careers of several students and readers in various work settings, including government, public and private corporations, franchises and high tech ventures
· Personal lives the author, students and readers

The courses on leadership and ethics have been offered primarily to individuals pursuing education and careers in engineering, business, philosophy, industrial and general psychology, and the sciences. Individuals in field such as medicine, nursing, science, arts and others also may attend and benefit from the courses.

For the most part, these courses have provided stones and bricks to satisfy degree requirements. They also have supplied the mortar to improve many lives. This is evidenced by a remarkably large number of communications from students and readers over the years.

Notwithstanding the success with college courses, readers in other learning situations might find this book to be helpful. Such situations might include corporate training programs, business seminars, motivational and inspiration lectures and classes in leadership and ethics offered by religious, civic, social and political organizations

This book also might provide building blocks as well as mortar for some creative seminar leaders and instructors. Such teachers could combine selections from the book with other ingredients of their choice to deliver well-directed packages of knowledge where needed.

Finally, because of its simple narrative format, some readers might consider this book as a self-help treatise. Such readers could go directly to the lessons summarized at the end of each chapter to fill gaps in their knowledge, saving the chapters for subsequent reading at leisure. The stories and examples in the chapters explain the lessons and show how they are applied in life. In this way, those who are rushing through life also could strengthen joints and reinforce the structure of their learning and growth at a self-set pace.

Lessons from Introduction: The Purpose for Action

· Education is a way to improve the human condition.
· Leadership and ethics are essential elements of a balanced education.
· Leadership is the process of transforming dreams into reality. Thus, change is central to leadership.
· Ethics is the concept of good and evil expressed through a value system. Balance is central to ethics.
· Humans are bundles of desire. All desires may be grouped into four levels–after the ancient sages of the east.
· A book about leadership and ethics should educate in a simple way that is easy to understand and practice. This book does that.
· The Framework for Purposeful Action uses a value system to weave ethics into the fabric of all actions.
· The Framework is constructed upon the philosophy of “The Brook,” which postulates that life is the flow of actions.
· The human journey in the metaphorical river has an inner and an outer aspect. The inner aspect is determined by the trilogy of actions, values and desires. The outer aspect is determined by the spark, resonance and flow. This book shows how these two trilogies determine the course of life.
· The Brook helps us understand the meaning of life and show how it can be improved by using the Framework for Purposeful Action. The subsequent chapters of this book show how this may be done.
· The Framework has been used successfully in a wide range of college courses and in various settings in professional and personal lives.
· Most human beings can be represented by a combination of six business archetypes and two Grand Archetypes. The six business archetypes are, leader, entrepreneur, manager, consultant, trustee and intellectual. The two Grand Archetypes are Giver and Taker.
· BrookMaster is a software game that predicts the relative propensity of an individual to be any combination of these archetypes. This game may be used as a tool for learning about ourselves and our fellow travelers and for modifying our archetypal behavior.
· Five characteristics make this book universally useful as a textbook across the curriculum and as a training manual for seminar leaders. These are: an easy flowing narrative style, lesson summaries following each chapter, detailed course outline, comprehensive index that serves as a study guide, and examples of application of the Framework for Purposeful Action.

Leave a Reply