Leadership is Patient; Leadership is Kind; Leadership is Not Envious…” (Adopted from Corinthians 13: 4-7)
It is our distinct honor to represent Monmouth University delegates led by Professor Golam M. Mathbor, Ph.D., Associate Dean of the Wayne D. McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, for the leadership conference titled National Conference on Ethics in America (NCEA), during the week of October 18-22, 2009. Only 150 students were chosen nationwide from 60 academic institutions. First and foremost we would like to thank Monmouth University and the West Point graduating Class of 1970 for giving us the opportunity to experience a truly inspirational and educational week. At the conference, we discussed various and moral and ethical challenges in society to promote awareness of these issues in our universities and serve our communities and future career fields with integrity. Some of the salient features of this conference were; religion, politics and business, ethics in business, bioethics, ethics and social responsibility.
Among many speakers, mentors, and panel members there were Ronald C. Smith, CEO of Wendy’s Arby’s Group Inc., Mr. Pat William, Senior Vice President of the Orlando Magic, General (Ret) Frederick Franks, Jr., Dr. Barbara Toffler, Col. (Ret) Patrick Toffler, Col. (Ret) Len Marrella, DBA (in the picture above) who is also the author of the book “In Search of Ethics: Conversations With Men and Women of Character.” Dr. Marrella was a great speaker and believes that “in the end, your character is your destiny!” I (Balkees) believe an individual always needs to build on his/her character and strive to be the best person that he or she can be. Character can have many meanings depending on frame of reference. Character can mean the traits we posses that determine our actions, it can be a collection of attributes and morals that build up in the process of life, or character can be what you aspire to be and the quality of your actions. “The United States is great because she is good. She ceases to be great when she is no longer good. A country is defined by the character of its people,” said Marrella. So ask yourself what does character mean to me and what kind of person am I?
The NCEA Conference at West Point presented many valuable and lifelong lessons. All the speakers gave tremendous presentations and enlightened the audience with great knowledge. Some of the important messages included the following: be present in the moment, you are going to teach yourself more than people teach you by constantly challenging yourself, choices made are NOT irrevocable, ethics are not discussions but who we are and the behaviors we exhibit. It is easy to throw the words courage and ethics around and discuss them, but to have the courage it takes to act as a leader in the name of ethics, is a hard concept to live. One must never underestimate the power of character, leadership, and integrity. Integrity consists of hope, truth, trust, and character. Marrella stated that he wants everyone to realize that we need to take time to understand what truly matters in life and be aware that we can change the world. Yes, we can! Also, it is our responsibility and obligation to constantly educate ourselves. We learned ethics as a way of life as opposed to concepts to be discussed. One’s personal ethics defines one’s self; it is how you chose to live your entire life. Integrity is defined by all the actions committed in your life and questions its wholeness. “The hottest seats in hell are reserved for those who remain neutral [in difficult situations and do not act on the wrongdoings of others],” once said Martin Luther King. It is sad to say that ethics have been replaced by this new market society of ours that we have developed driven solely by money and personal gain.
As the future leaders of our generation we must create hope in order to serve others. Ask things of our friends, families, etc. to challenge them to become even better individuals. There is always room for self-improvement. Your friends significantly influence your character so choose your friends carefully. You know what the good decision is by watching what the good person does so lead by example. Honor the fallen and lost loved ones by living their values. Every failure is an opportunity for us if we approach the situation the right way. The only graces you have in life are the graces you can imagine. If you cannot see it then you cannot achieve it and it will never happen.
Attending this conference has opened our minds. We met many great people, made many friends not only from different parts of the country, but the world as well, and experienced living with the cadets (those attending the military academy) for four days. The conference was an opportunity which facilitated growth, leadership and the realization of the value of ethics, character, and integrity or lack thereof in America and how to further improve ourselves, our communities and this great nation. The most important realization from the conference was perhaps that there is beauty in the world and we have the ability as leaders to create it and contribute to changes that must be made in society for the better. Like love, leadership is patient; leadership is kind; leadership is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things (adopted from Corinthians 13: 4-7). The key note was given by Pat Williams, Senior Vice President of the NBA’s Orlando Magic. As one of the America’s top motivational, inspirational, and humorous speakers, he has addressed thousands of executives in organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies and national associations to universities and nonprofits. I want to summarize this conference by saying that it has been truly a transactional event in the sense that participants had the opportunity to exchange their views with each other’s through small group discussions, panel discussions, and question and answer sessions with successful leaders; and transformational in the sense that we all have enlightened ourselves learning seven ingredients for leadership excellence as noted by Mr. Williams – “vision, communication, people skills, character, competence, boldness, and serving heart (servant leader)” - Dr. Golam Mathbor.
An Article by: Balkees Parveen and Sara A. Gardiner