Central Michigan graduates ethical leaders. This is what I was told when I toured Central, when I competed for the Leader Advancement Scholarship, and repeatedly since I got here. I was always a bit skeptical, however. It’s easy to say that Central graduates ethical leaders but what will Central provide me that will make me a more ethical leader than graduates from other universities?
My answer came in the form of PHL118L, Intro to Philosophy, with Gary Fuller. So often we view ethics as cut and dried decisions. Often, when I use to think about ethics, I viewed it as a simple decision: do the easy thing or the right thing. Do the thing that will make you more money, or the right thing. However, it did not take long in Professor Fuller’s course for me to realize that when it comes to a majority of decisions, especially those decisions that leaders face, it is not this cut and dried.
Throughout the semester we examined many topics including abortion, war, torture, euthanasia, and more. A majority of the class was examining the pros and cons of these topics and making a decision. One of the biggest things I took away from this course is that often there is not ‘right’ choice. Nonetheless, being in a leadership position we are going to have to make a choice. It is our responsibility to look at it from all sides, weigh the options, and justify our decision. This course was one that I enjoyed going to and truly helped me develop as an ethical leader.
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” This is the underlying idea in Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk. As part of our LDR200L course we watched this Ted Talk to gain a better understanding of the mindset of the people that follow us. Essentially, what Simon says during the Ted Talk, is that people don’t care about what you do, it’s about why you do it. I couldn’t agree more with this statement. After years of school, sports, and extracurricular activities this statement proves to be undoubtably true.
Partaking in these activities has given me a myriad of different people to follow and the people I follow the most passionately all have the same quality: they are passionate about what they do and they care about their followers. The intent behind the leader makes all the difference. A superior that doesn’t have their followers best interests in mind will never be followed very passionately. Having a coach, teacher, or advisor that is passionate about what they do inspires their followers just by their passion and how much they care. It is these leaders that are usually the most successful as well.
This plays right into what Sinek was saying. In the example he used, with the Wright Brothers, he said Samuel Pierpont Langley was in it for the wrong reasons: he wanted the money and the fame. All the conditions were right, but he didn’t succeed. On the other hand, the Wright Brothers were driven because they believed they could change the course of the world. As a result, the people that worked for them, believed in their dream and followed with “blood, sweat, and tears” rather than just a paycheck. This statement is what sticks out most to me. If you work towards a cause passionately rather than something superficial, like money or fame, your followers will work for you-not for the money.
In conclusion, I agree with Sinek’s underlying idea in his Ted Talk. A leader without passion can hardly be called a leader at all. Why a leader does what they do makes all the difference not just in their effort, but in their follower’s efforts as well.