This article was recently posted by The World Economic Forum
5 ways to step up and become a moral leader
27 Aug 2019
Avery Blank Contributor, Forbes
Moral leadership is providing values or meaning for people to live by, inspiration to act and motivation to hold oneself accountable. When you don’t see someone stepping up to provide purpose and doing what is best for the greater good, step up.
Leadership is a responsibility. It’s also a power, not to be taken for granted. The late author Toni Morrison said, “If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.” Your best self is when you use your power to lead others. Here are five ways to develop moral leadership:
1. Identity a set of values
Moral leaders guide themselves with values and ethics that they develop over time and with experience. Examples of values include integrity, respect, accountability, community, inclusion, fairness and service.
What experiences have shaped your thoughts and views? Be introspective. Think about the principles by which you live your life.
2. Manage your ego
Moral leaders have a sense of self and are not threatened by others. But they also recognize that their self is not the most important thing and that leadership is not about them. Leadership is about serving others. It is not about you or your interests. True leaders value other people and put the interest of others first.
3. Consider diverse groups of people, and include their views
Leaders do not impose their values on others. They consider other people’s values. They interact with and understand others. The combination of their values and the values of diverse groups inform a vision for a better future.
4. Embrace change
People seek moral leadership when they want change. Leaders don’t fear change. They have the courage and conviction to share a vision to try and bring about positive change.
5. Build consensus, and establish unity
It is rare that everyone will be onboard with your opinion or views (learn about the 20-60-20 rule). A leader listens to people with different views. A leader knows not to try and win everyone over.
Leaders also know not to create divisions. Moral leaders do their best to communicate a purpose that can inspire as many people as possible to want to take part in enacting positive change for the greater good.
Moral leadership is something everyone can strive for. It can be difficult to attain, but it is worth the challenge for yourself and those around you. Know your values, check your ego at the door, embrace others, be transformative and seek unity. Take responsibility to build a better world for all.
There has been a lot of conversation about how our technology focused lives are impacting our character and most of it suggests that the impact is negative. That may not be true after all... And since technology is clearly here to stay, this is an interesting discussion.
Research about the impact of technology in empathy development in children this isn’t clear. A Dutch study of 10-14 year olds found that their use of social media was not actually damaging their empathy, but improving it. The study suggests that social media may be helpful for kids in this age group by observing interactions and feedback from peers, and allowing them to practice skills related to social competence.
When the class of 2018 started school, they were coming into classrooms that already had SmartBoards, laptops, and smartphones. They came of age online, and studies are showing that this is changing the way that these students behave. Sarah Conrath and a team at University of Michigan reviewed data samples from 94 studies of undergraduate students between 1988 and 2011. The studies showed that during that time period, there was a 40% decline in empathy among college students. This aligns with the fact that Howard Gardner and Katie Davis call current college students members of the “app generation”, and this affects the way that they have conversations and build relationships. Technology and apps are designed to respond quickly, and they respond to actions in a predictable way. People, on the other hand, don’t always respond predictably or quickly, especially in person, so it can be easier to take those interactions online.
On the flip side, some of the positive accepted behaviours online are not as accepted in person. The anonymity of some online spaces can make it easier for people to present a more true version of themselves than they might in the real world, or self-disclose information about challenges or difficult situations. This reflecting in public can be a powerful tool to get support from others, and allows people to build an understanding of the experience of others. But if we’re all reflecting in public more, we’re also spending less time reflecting alone.
We typically think that empathy is built when we spend time with other people, but time alone for reflection is also critical to building empathy, and we’re doing less of that than ever before. “We turn time alone into a problem that needs to be solved by technology,” says Sherry Turkle, and we’re finding lots of solutions to this “problem”. In fact, a University of Virginia study found that college students have a hard time thinking in enjoyable ways when left alone in an empty room with no cell phone. In fact, they found that students would rather voluntarily give themselves a light electric shock than just sit and think. The time to reflect alone helps us build skills like concentration and imagination, which are skills that help us be fully present in a conversation.
So if the bad news is that the impact of technology on empathy is happening early, the good news is that it isn’t universally bad, and it doesn’t take much to counteract the negative effects. A 2014 UCLA study of 11-13 year olds found that after just 5 days at an outdoor camp with no devices, the campers were able to read facial expressions and emotions significantly better. This may have been a study of kids, but there are device-free spaces and retreats popping up for adults as well. As a college junior pointed out, the connections that we have through our devices aren’t inherently bad. “Our texts are fine, it’s what texting does to our conversations when we are together that’s the problem.”
These are a few things that anyone can try!
The Community of Character is all about recognizing and appreciating the good stuff in life. This blog will share some thoughts on how we can be the best version of ourselves.