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Friday, May 1, 2015

Strategic CSR - Moral character

The article in the url below is an interview on NPR with David Brooks, who is talking about his recently published book, The Road to Character. The book is a personal journey for Brooks, but also talks about moral character in general terms, featuring pillars of history who overcame specific character flaws and are presented as models to emulate:
"I do think the turning point in a life toward maturity is looking inside yourself and saying, 'What's the weakness that I have that leads to behavior that I'm not proud of?'"
A particular focus of the book is to contrast the goal of living a life defined by moral character against what Brooks calls "the culture of the Big Me," a characteristic of society that has become more prominent in recent decades. Brooks highlights this 'culture' because it presents such a challenge to overcoming any narcissistic tendencies we have and living for and on behalf of something that is larger than the individual:
"My favorite statistic about this is that in 1950 the Gallup organization asked high school seniors: Are you a very important person? And in 1950, 12 percent said yes. They asked again in 2005 and it was 80 percent who said they were a very important person."
Although the book is not about business, per se, I played the interview in my strategy class because I thought it was instructive in terms of building the leaders we hope our students will become. In essence, I suggested my students would be better managers if they are asking themselves the questions that Brooks poses. I believe that building moral character should be a central component of a business education, as opposed to the functional factories our business schools have become.
Have a good weekend.
David Chandler & Bill Werther
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Take It From David Brooks: Career Success 'Doesn't Make You Happy'
April 13, 2015
National Public Radio