Dr. Clinton Longenecker, Stranahan Professor of Leadership and Organizational Excellence in The University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation, was a keynote speaker at the 29th annual National State of Ethics in America Conference at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.The theme of this year’s conference was “Inspiring Honorable Living — Moving From Compliance to Internalization,” which addressed ways to inspire someone to live above and beyond the honor code, regulations and prohibitions. The goal was to have participants leave the conference inspired to live honorably, build trust, and influence others to do the same.
Longenecker is a frequent speaker for senior U.S. military leaders on the subject of leadership, the ethical challenges associated with success and power, and how to avoid ethical failure.
“I have three years of doing programs and projects with senior military leaders and have spoken at all of the military senior graduate schools, but to have the opportunity to speak at West Point was both humbling and remarkable,” Longenecker said. “The place is a cornerstone of U.S. history; you are surrounded by it and deeply moved by what you see.”
“I spoke about my research about the Bathsheba Syndrome — a leader’s potential inability to cope with and respond to the byproducts of success, the ethical temptations leaders face, and how not to get caught up in wrongful, unethical behavior,” he said.
Comments from evaluations completed by cadets after the conference included:
• “It was the first time I was called out to systematically think through the challenges and temptations that come along with success and power of command; it really made me think differently about success.”
• “The idea of predicting personal leadership challenges to put in place safeguards is literally life-changing.”
• “In our profession, we often discuss errors of others after we find out that they have occurred. With Dr. Longenecker’s methodology, we can learn to have the hard conversations before they become embarrassing or toxic behavior patterns.”
Longenecker said, “The cadets and military leaders are driven to success, which can be a very good thing, but I know I shook up their thinking when it comes to ethical leadership, character and competency, and the dangers of success.”
Also presenting at the conference was Rachel Maddow, host of the nationally broadcast MSNBC program “The Rachel Maddow Show,” who spoke on her book Drift, concerning politics and the use of military force.
After the conference, one cadet wrote, “I liked how the second day presentations fed into one another; it was like Rachel Maddow asked questions and Clinton Longenecker answered them.”