Does the World Really Need Another Leadership and Ethics Blog?

Maybe, maybe not.  What is clear is the world needs well-considered ideas to help solve “knotty problems.”  I define a knotty problem as particularly difficult to solve, typically involving complex contributing factors and ambiguous potential outcomes.  The current challenge facing the nation involving social justice, for example, is a classic knotty problem.  That it’s a social science problem, makes it infinitely more complex to solve.  It is long-standing and resistant to linear, one-dimensional solutions.  It will require real leadership.  I define leadership as the process of directing, influencing, and inspiring the efforts of others toward a common purpose.

What can the Stockdale Center do to help leaders solve knotty problems?  It can add the voice of ethicists, moral philosophers, historians, organizational psychologists, experienced leadership practitioners, among others to help those looking for time- and even battle-tested solutions.  What we plan to do in the coming weeks, months, and years is to use this platform to offer up the very best ideas for building better, more ethical leaders.  What can you expect from this blog?  Practical ideas to help solve knotty problems. Conversations about the very meaning of moral responsibility and character.  Lessons from experts who have thought deeply about these issues and have solved related problems themselves. 

We hope to encourage first principles thinking, which was defined by Aristotle as the first basis from which a thing is known.  In other words, our hope is to determine the causal factors of the challenges we face.  We plan to examine the best and most fundamental practices of problem solving.  We hope to expose fundamental attribution error and other biases that prevent leaders from effectively developing solutions.  I define fundamental attribution error as the tendency to judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions.  We also judge people’s bad behavior as a function of their personality and our own bad behavior as a function of circumstances beyond our control.  I define biases as closed-minded or prejudicial ways of thinking about things or people.  Biases can be innate or learned.  Biases can be rooted in heuristics—expedient methods of problem solving based on experiences.

Finally, we hope that you’ll consider adding your voice to this conversation.  Let us know what issues we should examine.  Let us know what we’re getting right and wrong.  Colleges and universities all too often settle for purely academic recommendations.  The VADM James B. Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership’s vision is to add value to the leader development journey of Midshipmen, staff, faculty and coaches at the United States Naval Academy.  We are also charged with serving the fleet and operating forces of the Marine Corps, other government agencies, and centers of national influence.  If we get this right—and our intent is to focus every effort to do just that—we’ll make this platform a leading exchange of eminently practical ideas to benefit leaders and the organizations they serve.

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