Can Institutions Shape Ethical Leadership?

Published: 31st January 2014 04:39 PM  |   Last Updated: 31st January 2014 04:39 PM   |  A+A-

Where are true leaders made? Could leaders be shaped in classes through a  curriculum? If yes, at what age and point is this intervention necessary? When institutions themselves practice unethical behavior, could they promote ethical leadership in their students?

These were some of the talking points that a panel of eminent educationists and industrialists discussed at the ThinkEdu14 conclave, organised by the The New Indian Express, on Friday, churning out a divided verdict. But all of them, without exception, stressed on the need for promoting leadership and ethics at the institutional level. 

Chairing the panel, Director of IIM-Kozhikode, Debashis Chatterjee, said that the topic which questions whether institutions teach ethics and leadership has an underlying assumption that the two could be taught in classrooms. 

"By covering a syllabus, you certainly do not discover a leader. Leadership has to be discovered not in the classroom but in the field of practice," he pointed out. 

Gowri Ishawaran, CEO of Global Education and Leadership Foundation, said that whenever there is a talk about teaching leadership, there is invariably an overemphasis such inculcation at the higher education level. This is inherently flawed as any successful intervention had to be made early in life at the primary education level rather than at the colleges. 

"We see that there is hardly any teaching of what is ethical and not at the school level. By the time the student gets to college, such education is a tad too later," she observed. 

Chancellor of the VIT University, G Viswanathan, said his institution has been one of the few exceptions that made learning ethics as subject compulsory. While ideally leadership should come from inspiration, he said such a scenario does not exist in the present state. 

"Issues such as tax evasion are not even considered as unethical as it is so pervasive. For this to change, students should be guided on what to do and what not to do," he said. 

Viswanathan also pointed that syllabus at government institutions hardly make a mention of ethics, which need a remedy immediately. 

CK Ranganathan, Chairman and MD of CavinKare, laid stress on the role of employers in improving leadership in the market. Employers could promote leadership if a premium is added to talent with leadership qualities. This would certainly bring around a significant change in the kind of workforce in the market, he said.

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