The pandemic simultaneously stretched the world thin, exposing our infirmities, and fused it together, collapsing spheres of society, the economy, and our personal lives into one. Given the central and permeating role business plays in all spheres, the imperative for moral leadership here is especially great. Social, religious, political, geopolitical, environmental, human, ethical, and even existential issues that were once considered tangential to doing business are now inescapably central on its agenda. Many businesses reacted to the pandemic by doing the right thing and putting people first. By putting people first, they not only earned trust, and inspired deeper loyalty, they also laid a path forward for their business consonant with the imperatives of a post-pandemic world. I hope many will see the wisdom of putting humanity at the center of their businesses in the future, too, with greater benefits for workers, the community, and shareholders. Good leaders will learn from these crises and pivot accordingly to move forward in a better direction. In a political leader’s case, in a company leader’s case, in an education leader’s case, that pivot will be anchored, hopefully, in truth and other deep human values — and then move in the new directions we’ll need in a post-pandemic world, where people’s expectations will have fundamentally changed.
We at The HOW Institute believe that our next national and global project is clear and inescapable. The long-term project, because it will take time, is to restore shared truth and foster trust everywhere, and in all institutions, in all organizations, in all communities. The integrity and resiliency of our system depends on it. Everything and anything else we hope to accomplish depend on it.
If truth and trust are the pillars supporting all future human endeavor, the good news is that every leader and every person in their communities — presidents and CEOs but also teachers, principals, mayors, and neighbors — can do their part to restore truth, to guard truth, and to engender trust. For global business leaders this means creating supply chains that are not just about speed and efficiency but about resilience and integrity. For leaders in education this means educating the heart of each student, where values like empathy and compassion reside. To quote Aristotle yet again, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” And for political leaders this means prioritizing people over power. For all spheres of society, the common thread is that we must put people with moral authority in positions of formal authority. And once our pillars of truth and trust are strong again, we can get back to more effectively pursuing individual success, collective dreams, and ambitious goals, all within a more just and inclusive society. But it’s going to take moral courage and shared truths.
“For all spheres of society, the common thread is
that we must put people with moral authority in
positions of formal authority.”
Which is why The HOW Institute’s mission — to build a culture of moral leadership, principled decision making, and values-based behaviors — must be pursued with fierce urgency. The only thing that will save us, is if more people — of all ages, races, genders, and faiths — build moral authority in their respective realms and then use it to do big, meaningful things. As the great moral leader Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Please click on the image below and watch a short video to reflect further about moral leadership and learn how The HOW Institute is working to build and nurture moral leadership across society.
Thank you for being a friend of The HOW Institute. We are deeply humbled to be in common cause with you in our shared commitment to the society we envision. We look forward to continuing this journey together through 2021 and beyond.
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