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
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Stakeholders, Globalization, and Sustainable Value Creation (3e)
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Take It From David Brooks: Career Success 'Doesn't Make You Happy'
April 13, 2015
National Public Radio