Topic Name Description
Course Syllabus Page Course Syllabus
1.1: Plato and the Four Cardinal Virtues Page Plato: The State and the Soul

As you read this article, think about the nature of the state or government. How does the virtuous behavior of the citizens impact how the state functions? How do Plato's four cardinal virtues lay the foundation for other virtues?

Page Cardinal Virtues

Read this article, which provides a historical context for how future schools of thought built on Plato's cardinal virtues. What makes these virtues so timeless? How are they still relevant after 2,000 years?

1.2: Justice Page Plato's Dialogue

Watch this video to review Plato's cardinal virtues and hear a discussion of how justice finds its way into modern discussions of virtue ethics, such as lying, stealing, murder, and cheating. The language of virtue has changed, but the concerns of the classical approach are still with us.

Page The Concept of Justice in Greek Philosophy

Read this article for background on why Plato and Aristotle considered justice to be the "mother" of the virtues. Justice relates to fairness or equality as a guiding principle for your actions and decisions. It also moderates selfishness and selflessness – a balance or harmony society prefers for personal actions. The classical conception argues that justice in the individual results in justice for the state.

1.3: Practical Wisdom (Prudence) Page Prudentia

Read this article, which argues that Plato's concept of practical wisdom includes two components. Virtuous leaders not only use their practical wisdom to think knowledgeably – incorporating memoria and docilitas, or open-mindedness. They can also make good decisions with open eyes and clear-sighted vision, quickly, with providentiality or foresight.

Think about how competitive athletes train and make decisions in the sports arena. Superior athletes not only have excellent physical and technical abilities, but they can also make quick tactical decisions with foresight. They predict what is going to happen in the next few moments. In the same way, Plato's virtuous leaders have great knowledge and cognitive ability and can think with clear-sighted vision, in a way that is providential, with foresight.

As you read, think about how you would respond to these questions.

  • What aspects of prudence are at work in athletic training and participation in a sport?
  • How does an athlete perform a good action during a game?
  • How does the author align memoria and docilitas with the ability to make quick-witted, good decisions?
  • Why does the author believe prudence is foundational for people to learn justice, wisdom, and ethics?
1.4: Courage (Fortitude) Page Courage

Read this article, which surveys the classical link and historical understanding of courage. In the section on modernity, pay particular attention to how courageous people show fortitude in the midst of trials. The awards section at the bottom of the article lists various commendations organizations present to recipients who have demonstrated great courage despite the obstacles they faced.

1.5: Moderation (Self-Control and Temperance) Page Temperance

Read this article, which offers more explanation and examples of what Plato meant about acting or leading with moderation.

1.6: Aristotle on Leadership and Virtue Page Aristotle on Ethics and Virtues

Read this article, which explores Aristotle's virtue ethics in more detail. As you read, consider how Aristotle builds on Plato's Four Cardinal Virtues.

Page Virtue as a Competitive Advantage

How should leaders balance general concerns of justice with the specific concerns of business? This article recommends leaders balance or harmonize a unity of virtues with commonly-held values and beliefs that live through the individual and organization. Are there any limits to the public and private application of fairness and justice? How should leaders balance these concerns? How can the four categories of phronesis listed above help balance what leaders should and should not do?

1.7: Knowledge as Practical Wisdom (Phronesis) Page Wisdom in Action

This article describes phronesis as "the practice of wisdom people use in particular situations when they do not and cannot know what to do…Leadership calls for them to act at the moment, not just on what they know, but in a mood of courage, perseverance, discernment, and thoughtfulness, as well as wisdom. To decide 'in the moment' is to draw on who one is in every facet of one's being". The authors describe a leader who is courageous, wise, and able to work without a roadmap, while "rooted in the values respected by the community".

1.8: Skill as Art and Intuition (Techne) Page Techne

Read this article, which gives a background and discussion on techne in the field of rhetoric and communication. Do you think leaders who set policies to train people in diligence, justice, and empathy, can create laws and policies to train citizens to be lazy and selfish? How is the way individuals act or perform as important as the action or task itself? In what ways do our morals inform our choices and actions?

1.9: Aristotle on the Art of Leadership in Practice Page The Mixed Regime and the Rule of Law

Watch this lecture for a discussion of what Aristotle believes about the qualities of a virtuous statesman (megalopsychos). Pay particular attention to the role of regime and the cultural component of regime.

Page Leadership, Liberty, and the Crisis of Authority

Read this opinion piece, which examines Aristotle's beliefs about phronesis, virtuous leadership, and the recent political situation involving European leadership. Pay attention to the discussion of culture, which will set the stage for the next unit.

2.1: Definitions of Leadership Page Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Strategy

Read this chapter, which examines leadership through the lens of business practices and effectiveness.

2.2: Confucius on Good Leadership Page Alternative Perspectives on Leadership

As you read this research paper, consider how the approaches Confucius and the Greeks have toward leadership align and differ. Are leaders responsible for developing their own characters and virtuousness?

2.3: Leadership and Cultural Values Page Leadership, Personal Values, and Cultural Context

As you read this study about leadership and cultural values in Brazil, China, and the United States, consider how leadership styles differ according to the cultural contexts and personalities. Do these differences reflect differing beliefs about virtue, or are they merely leadership style issues?

2.4: Values-Based Leadership Page Developing Values-Based Leadership Skills

Read this discussion of how people develop their leadership skills and the ethical components of effective values-based leadership.

Page Why Do Leaders Fail in Introducing Values-Based Leadership?

Read this article, which describes how it can be disastrous to introduce values-based leadership into an organization incorrectly. How do you agree or disagree with this assessment?

3.1: Honesty Page What Followers Want from Their Leaders

This study finds that employees consider honesty the most important attribute of the leaders they follow. Leaders face a variety of moral and ethical dilemmas, and honesty in leaders is defined as "truthfulness, fairness in dealing with others, and refusal to engage in fraud, deceit, or dissembling". Followers respect leaders who are honest with them and express honesty in every action.

As you read, pay attention to the four main character traits followers desire from their leaders. Do you think partnership is more integral than productivity? How does honesty promote partnership? The article's conclusion returns to partnership and elements of fostering human flourishing. How do the concepts of partnership and promoting the wellbeing of others advance human flourishing for everyone involved?

Page Creating Ethical Cultures In Business

Watch this talk, which examines the interplay of honesty and courage between leader and follower. Employees sometimes find themselves in situations where they must respond to dishonest leaders and organizations. How do you tap into your courage to create a more ethical culture – stepping into a leadership role as an ethical follower?

3.2: Moral Courage and Moral Vision Page Stories of Courageous Leaders

Watch this video, which differentiates moral courage, which pertains to the soul or selfhood, from physical courage, where you act despite the possibility of physical harm or death. Consider the three leaders who acted with moral courage by championing small banking cooperatives, or co-ops, to help others.

Page Courageous Leadership for the 21st Century

Read this article for some additional acts of moral courage where the leader acts according to their moral convictions – honesty, integrity, care, humility, beliefs, liberty, and equality – for the welfare of others. Moral leaders "distinguish right from wrong, do right things, have honesty and integrity, seek justice, take responsibility, fulfill commitments, possess humility, show respect and serve, show courage to stand up for what is right, encourage and develop others".

Page The Basic Leadership Diamond

Review this explanation of leadership that incorporates acting ethically with vision and courage. Think about how this depiction compares to the examples of moral courage you reviewed previously.

3.3: Compassion Page Developing Compassionate Leadership in Health Care: An Integrative Review

Read this article, which explains why compassionate leadership is essential in the healthcare field. But this approach is important regardless of the field you work in. Think about the barriers to compassion it describes. How can a good leader help mitigate these negative factors in themselves and others? What did the leaders do to foster compassion? Note the author's discussion of servant-leadership. What sorts of paradigm shifts in leadership does the author propose?

3.4: Fairness Book Ethical Leadership

Read this text, which explains how ethical leaders should treat everyone fairly and base their judgments on "coherent, generally-accepted principles" such as "honesty, justice, fairness, avoiding harm to others, taking responsibility for one's actions, [and] putting the greater good ahead of one's own interests".

Page Are We Over-Concerned about Fairness?

Read this article, which argues that fairness alone is not a sufficient guiding principle for an exemplary leader. Why does the author believe that using fairness alone is too subjective? Do you agree that Plato's Four Cardinal Virtues should always guide our actions in some measure?

3.5: Intellectual Excellence and Willingness to Listen to Others Page The Value of Listening

Read this article, which describes how good leaders listen to their employees and colleagues in empathic ways.

Page Leadership Lessons

Watch this video, where a retired general answers questions about leadership and his experience as a U.S. Marine. Pay particular attention to what he says about the virtue of listening to others and how it has impacted his own intellectual and leadership excellence.

3.6: Creative Thinking Page Traditional vs. Creative Leadership

As you read this article, think about how creative leaders foster human flourishing (eudaimonia) in the workplace.

3.7: Aesthetic Sensitivity Page What Makes A Great Leader?

Read this article, which describes how to pursue excellence by creating a great teaching and learning environment for teachers and students. Good leaders have ideas about what needs to happen, but they also assume they can reach these goals more effectively by collaborating with their group or team. As you read, think about what makes this collaborative process more desirable and pleasing. Do you agree that this approach encourages human flourishing (eudaimonia)?

3.8: Good Timing Page Recognizing the Challenges of Leadership

Read this article, which describes how leaders often need to respond to various external and internal challenges that often present themselves unexpectedly to take advantage of opportunities when they arise.

3.9: Selflessness Page Servant Leadership

Interestingly, these attitudes of selflessness are in short supply, despite the benefits that accrue to the leader, followers, and the larger organization. As you read this article, think about how philosophy, servant-leadership, and selflessness are linked. In what ways does a selfless leader benefit? Why do you think the number of leaders who follow this approach is so low?

Page Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe

How does a selfless leadership style work in practice? Watch this talk, which describes how good leaders make us feel safe. The presenter describes the kind of selfless trust that comes from leading with courage, moderation, and human flourishing.

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