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The Need for Ethical Leadership

by Jody Godoy '05

The challenges facing current leaders are immense, and yet, according to Sir Patrick Duffy, "the need for ethical leadership has rarely received attention." Former President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (formerly the North Atlantic Assembly), Duffy addressed this issue when he spoke in Upper Turner Campus Center on Thursday, April 11. He discussed the need for ethical leadership, its characteristics, and our proper relationship to it.

Duffy has served as a leading member of the House of Commons in the British Parliament, and currently serves as a member of the Advisory Board of the Centre for Defence and International Security Studies.

Duffy described the greatest ethical leaders as able to deal with "great forces, big issues, and their deepest implications." Duffy mentioned examples including Jesus, Margaret Thatcher, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Regan. Leaders like these have complex personalities, surround themselves with good advisors, and "achieve right identity through choice of right timing and pursuit of right purpose."

Duffy also stressed that "we need to be wary of leadership and not allow ourselves to be dazzled by it," and that it must be "handled with care, although sometimes it meets our deepest needs." Because "the best kind of leaders serve the people they purport to lead," it's necessary to look at our role as followers, as well as potential leaders. Duffy encouraged his audience towards "continuing to pursue excellence," cultivating the "art of inspiring and giving people confidence to pursue a common goal," and practicing the "essentials" of "integrity and morality."

He also strongly encouraged them to gather the "strength of conviction and courage to defend what you believe," which both allows for the support of the choices made by ethical leaders, and shapes good potential leaders. What we ultimately need is "to have clarity of vision" and a "strength of conviction and courage to defend that vision," said Duffy.