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What do I --? How do I --? Should I --? The Center for Leadership tackles important in-the-news topics.

Blink - and the world changes. New situations emerge. Once-unimaginable circumstances occur once, twice, then sometimes with amazing frequency. New episodes happen today that never tested leaders in the past.

The directors and faculty of the Center for Leadership at Florida International University (FIU) are not afraid to address hot topics and breaking news, in order to help people understand and cope with the challenges of leadership in today's world. 
"Leadership is most critical when the topics and issues are tough, when we are in crisis," says Dr. Modesto A. Maidique, FIU President Emeritus and Executive Director of the Center for Leadership. "Through our forums and lecture series, it is our intention to help equip leaders to ethically and effectively transform their organizations and their societies. We also bring some of the best minds in the world to campus, to share their insights on the subject of leadership in today's volatile, globalized and interconnected world."

"What would you do if you walked in on your mentor in a sexual situation with a minor?" asked Dr. Maidique who led the discussion with FIU students, administrators and athletic staff members. "Who would you tell? What if you're the athletic director and you learned about the allegations a week later?"

Participants gave a variety of perspectives and posed even more questions about leadership and behavior, as Dr. Maidique and co-moderators law professor Jose Gabilondo and religious studies professor Dr. Nathan Katz helped everyone examine the many layers of the situation. 

Dr. Maidique explained that people are guided by different moral and ethical philosophies. Ethical egoists do what is in their own self-interest, he explained. Others feel a duty to do what is right regardless of what may come.

"Leadership is to blame for inaction at Penn State," said Dr. Maidique. "The university revolved around Joe Paterno. He had too much power within the institution. In this case it was a football coach, but the same would hold true if it was a scientist who brought in lots of grant money or a star fundraiser. The problem is the skewed culture that facilitates the behavior."

Ethics and behavior of leaders in today's fast-paced world were also tackled by Dr. Mary C. Gentile, author of "Giving Voice To Values: How To Speak Your Mind When You Know What's Right," when she came to campus on February 8 of this year as part of the Center's Leadership Lecture Series.

Speaking on the "how" of business ethics, Dr. Gentile told attendees that giving voice to values starts from the premise that most people already want to act on their values but that "we also want to feel that we have a reasonable chance of doing so effectively and successfully."

Dr. Gentile said that sometimes even in high profile scandals like Penn State, there were, in fact, folks who tried to voice their values but they were ignored.

"The benefits of actually pre-scripting our responses; learning from what worked for others; identifying the most persuasive arguments and the most effective approaches; and so on can enable us to overcome our fears and to be more effective when we do speak up," she pointed out. 

Manuel "Manny" Gonzalez, Vice President, Global Operations, Proctor and Gamble, is one of the people who attended Dr. Gentile's address. He is very enthusiastic about what the speaker offered.

"Mary's framework of 'Giving Voice to Values' is an essential leadership tool in today's society," Mr. Gonzalez says. "If we do not stand up for what is right, we should not expect others to do it for us. Failure to stand up also results in the organizations we belong to and society as a whole not improving."

Mr. Gonzalez reports that Dr. Gentile's framework helps a person find and develop moral courage. "Then, that moral courage can be transformed into moral competency that you can count on to make your organizations and society better," he concludes.

The 2011-2012 season of The Leadership Lectures and other forums have closed. But building on a stellar first year (click here to see line-up of past lectures), the 2012-2013 season of lectures and forums promise to continue to tackle topical issues and provide access to concrete and practical leadership tools. 

Looking ahead

The Center for Leadership is proud to announce that speakers for the 2012-13 academic year will include two powerhouse presenters:

The Chapman Leadership Lecture 2012- NEW
David Lawrence Jr., former publisher of The Miami Herald and recently a pioneer in the area of early childhood development and readiness, will be the first speaker in The Chapman Leadership Lecture, named after newspaper icon, Alvah H. Chapman, Jr. Every year, The Chapman Leadership Lecture will bring to the FIU community a distinguished, transcendent leader who is making a difference within their organization, in the community they serve, and beyond.

The next in The Leadership Lectures 2012-13 series ...
Dr. Manfred Kets de Vries, founder of INSEAD's Global Leadership Center, will share exciting information on leadership, career dynamics, executive stress, cross-cultural management, team building, coaching, and the dynamics of corporate transformation.

Story by Jane Schreier Jones