Tag Archives: leadership

Do You Practice Sustainable Values?

An interesting article in the NY Times this morning discusses the difference between situational values and sustainable values.  The theory comes from LRN – a consulting firm committed “to help inspire principled performence in business:”

Dov Seidman, the C.E.O. of LRN, which helps companies build ethical cultures, likes to talk about two kinds of values: “situational values” and “sustainable values.” Leaders, companies or individuals guided by situational values do whatever the situation will allow, no matter the wider interests of their communities. A banker who writes a mortgage for someone he knows can’t make the payments over time is acting on situational values, saying: “I’ll be gone when the bill comes due.”

Does this sound like members of your chapter?  Especially toward the end of an officer’s term or the final few months of a brother’s collegiate career, the drive to work toward implementing sustainable programs and ideas dwindles.  After all, it’ll be someone else’s job in a few months.

Your chapter must promote sustainable values.  Perhaps this will sound familiar:

People inspired by sustainable values act just the opposite, saying: “I will never be gone. I will always be here. Therefore, I must behave in ways that sustain — my employees, my customers, my suppliers, my environment, my country and my future generations.”

Sigma Nu is a lifetime commitment – you will never be ‘gone’ from the values of our organization – and accordingly, chapter leaders should practice sustainable values to ensure that the chapter is moving forward toward Sigma Nu’s vision of ‘excelling with honor.’

Where can you go to practice these ‘sustainable values?’  Why not start with the LEAD Program, Sigma Nu Fraternity’s primary initiative designed to develop ethical leaders.  Sessions that promote Values, Goal Setting, Strategic Planning and Accountability are readily available for your chapter’s implementation.

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Groupthink Makes Us Sheep-ish

Clive Thompson has an insightful piece on groupthink in this month’s issue of Wired:

Can you persuade someone to like a product by telling them that it’s popular? Do teenagers like Taylor Swift because she’s good or because everyone else they know likes her — so hey, she must be good, right?

Sociologist Robert Merton dubbed this tendency to base what we think we think on what other people are doing the “self-fulfilling prophecy” in 1949, and since then social scientists have tried to measure how powerful it actually is. Now, based on some studies conducted with the help of the Internet, it seems clear that we’re often just sheep.

Thompson goes on to describe a controlled experiment in which investigators tested the relationship between song ratings and the total number of downloads.  Did the subjects download the songs they actually liked or the songs they thought other people liked?  Read on.

So what does this have to do with fraternity life?  Everything.  Fraternities tend to go downhill when the leaders make poor decisions (or allow other members to make poor decisions).  And the root cause of these decisions is often groupthink and other phenomena of group psychology.

Do hazers perpetuate the arbitrary treatment of new members because they actually think it works, or because they see everyone around them doing it?  Teach your members to think for themselves and watch things change for the better.  Simply making them aware of these phenomena can make all the difference.

Learn more about groupthink and how to prevent it here.

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Leadership Lessons From MLK

Eight leadership lessons from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Here are two favorites:

3.  Great leaders refuse to accept the status quo. In fact, I would say that this is the defining characteristic of real leaders. They are not passive; they are active. They are unwilling to acquiesce to their circumstances.

This calls to mind another famous quote by C. P. Fulford Jr: “If you are coasting, it means you’re going downhill.”

5.  Great leaders call people to act in accord with their highest values. It would be easy for the civil rights movement to change tactics and resort to violence. Some did. However, like Nelson Mandela did when he became president of South Africa, Dr. King called his people to a higher standard.

Indeed.  A lousy Commander says, “we need to do X or we could get in trouble.”  An excellent Commander says, “we ought to do X because it’s the right thing to do.”

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