Thinking About “The Seven Habits of An Ethical Leader”

(and Winning a Competition For It)

Azul Ogazon Gomez, Kiran Safwan Malik, Nidhi, and Tian Yifang (MPP 2008 – 10) entered the 2009 – 10 “I” Project Competition organized by Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), as part of its “I Generation” Youth Integrity Programme, which aims to get participants to think about the “pivotal value of integrity to young people.”

Their team won the Creative Award for Non-Hong Kong Teams in the “I” Project Competition for their creative presentation of their thoughts on their chosen topic (Go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhIYf4mwZK0). They will be travelling to Hong Kong to join the Exchange Programme, Youth Summit and Youth Concert on March 10 to 13.

Below is their brief account of how they thought about their chosen topic and entry to the competition.

Corruption often comes up in our discussions in class as the main cause of inefficiency and a major hindrance to the effective implementation of development policies. However, it is often the case that due to the magnitude of its roots, there is no clear recommendation on how to deal with political situations that would lead to a corruption-free environment.

Nonetheless, in our lectures at LKYSPP, we have heard the importance of having good leaders for implementing changes, those individuals who prepare organizations for change and help them cope as they struggle through it. Leaders are sometimes characterized as shrewd, cunning and benevolent, but are these characteristics enough to make a leader ethical and, hence, avoid corruption? How do such characteristics ensure that leaders will create a corruption-free environment?

Our group decided to concentrate on the topic “The Seven Habits of An Ethical Leader.” Based on the framework outlined by Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Ethical Leaders, we explored the seven habits, highlighted its relevance in the real world by using examples of great leaders, and saw how these, combined together, can result in leaders who can truly lead a better and less corrupt environment.

To creatively present our ideas, we prepared a video in which we used a tangram – a Chinese dissection puzzle of a long history – to show how the seven habits characterize ethical leaders. Our video used the seven different shapes, which together make up the tangram, to showcase pictures of the seven leaders we mentioned in our essay as representing each of the seven habits.

In the process of thinking about our entry into the competition, we realized that only a strong personal character, a passion for doing right, a proactive behavior, keeping the stakeholders’ interests in mind, a recognition of their value as role models, an awareness that decisionmaking should be transparent, a holistic view of human beings and a firm’s ethical culture will ensure ethical leaders who will succeed at a time of change and transition.

– by Azul Ogazon (MPP 2008 – 10)

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