A Kaleidoscopic Approach to Teaching Ethical Dimensions of Leadership

A Kaleidoscopic Approach to Teaching Ethical Dimensions of Leadership

Richard P. Peregoy (University of Dallas, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-510-6.ch022
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A kaleidoscopic teaching method using a variety of media challenges the course facilitator to lead, guide, and offer insight so that listeners interpret and become the learners and purveyors of action. The teacher is not the focal point of the course; rather, the learner is directly, immediately, and continually self-challenged to discover a personal path of ethics that allows for good and effective leadership. The idea is not to be extensively detailed in the readings but to allow basic concepts to unfold and discussions to excite the expectations of the audience serving in part as a “chorus.” Brief overviews are used to incite active discussion based in part upon questions and examples that arise from the life experiences of the participants. Additionally, the lecturettes offer insights from different cultural and ethical perspectives in an attempt to avoid moral relativism and to help develop critical multiplism of ethical behavior in leadership and followership. Students are also given suggestions for further reading in matters of specific interest. Integrative assignments provide a personal cap to each session. The films are shown in their entirety. Questions on key points of ethical behavior are expressed before the film and discussed in small groups thereafter. In this sense, the work is that of “edutainment” as a part of the educational process. Materials in this chapter are based on teaching this course to Master of Business Administration (MBA) students.
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The Course

Ethical Dimensions of Leadership is an advanced level elective. Students involved in the course have met prerequisites in the foundations of management course and have completed a required core course on Value Based Leadership. Three assumptions underline the construct of the course.

  • 1.

    Ethics is about good and evil, right and wrong, justice and injustice, in individuals and in our relationship with people and all sentient beings.

  • 2.

    Leadership is a subset of Ethics rather than Ethics being a subset of Leadership.

  • 3.

    “By their acts you shall know them.” Consideration is given to a variety of media, including assigned readings, cases, videos, and personal vignettes to integrate the learning of ethical leadership.

The purpose of this course is to understand the moral responsibilities of leadership and followership in a variety of views. The course has the following objectives:

  • To analyze the moral obligations of leadership and followership in context.

  • To learn how leaders and followers shape the moral environment.

  • To broaden students’ moral perspective and develop moral imagination.

  • To develop students’ ability to present and critique moral arguments.

  • To practice ethical problem solving.

  • To reflect on the moral perils of power on leadership and followership.

The course is taught as an interactive seminar in which the professor actively participates in the course discussion, but is not the locus of facilitation. Rather, the students share the responsibility for facilitating the class discussion by providing summaries of the readings and preparing high quality discussion points in the form of questions and observations. Past experiences are shared in the storytelling, the role-playing, and the experiential exercises.

At the beginning of the course a student-led “conduct of the class” enumerates principles that include the following:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Using Films and Stories: Illustrating topics and concepts of ethical concern taken from films and stories as a way of demonstrating ethical or unethical actions.

Inter-Cultural Ethical Awareness: Recognition of differing backgrounds and their influence on leader/follower actions.

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