The world is in the midst of a global crisis and the universal
cry for moral leadership is almost deafening. Although the
future seems dark, a basic understanding of what is happening
and why may encourage more people to attempt to carry out
the role of moral leadership.
The global crisis humanity is currently experiencing is
its tumultuous period of adolescence—its struggle to
attain maturity. Individual feelings of uncertainty, insecurity,
frustration and fear are manifested in individual and collective
states of confusion and disunity. The prevalent injustice,
distrust, deception, unconcern for others, lack of commitment
to social welfare, and general disregard for moral principles
are by-products of this confusion and disunity. Comprehension
of this natural growth process and the complementary sub-processes
that are assisting this evolutionary advancement—disintegration
and integration—creates the assurance and confidence
needed to take moral action that will result in the creation
of a new civilisation.
All around us we can see the disintegration of divisive systems
of thought and social institutions that are unable to adequately
respond to the myriad individual, social, economic, health,
environmental and political crises. Belief in the supremacy
of one race or sex above another and compromised judicial
systems fit into this category. At the same time, the growing
consciousness of the need for unity in all areas of human
existence is contributing to the generative process of integration.
Grassroots NGOs, with international ties that connect people
around the globe, is one example. The concept of moral leadership,
which has the potential to unite people, enhance their capabilities
and create effective and moral solutions to problems, is another.
Schools that help students acquire self-knowledge, practise
ethical behaviour and cooperation as well as develop service
mindedness and global consciousness are contributing to the
process of integration. Moral leadership actively strives
to advance the process of integration.
As a universally accepted definition of moral leadership
is still evolving, let us, instead, use a description of the
primary functions of a group plus selected essential components
of moral leadership as our basis for understanding the concept.
Anello & Hernandez (1966, p. 3) propose that a group that
functions well must:
- conserve and strengthen the unity of the group;
- carry out those tasks for which the group was created;
- develop the potentialities of the members of the group.
Senge’s (1990, p. 3) definition of a ‘learning
organization’ amplifies the personal growth and inter-personal
dynamics that are characteristic of a well-functioning group:
...an environment in which “people continually
expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire,
where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured,
where collective aspiration is set free, and where people
are continually learning to see the whole together.”
Anello & Hernandez (p. 61) have identified six essential
elements of moral leadership that contribute to the enhancement
of a group:
Six-Element Conceptual Framework
- Service-oriented leadership
- Personal and social transformation as the purpose
- The moral responsibility of investigating and applying
- Belief in the essential nobility of human nature
- Transcendence (e.g. overcoming ego and selfishness,
putting the welfare of the group first)
- The development of capabilities
These elements imply that that moral leadership is no longer
the duty, privilege or right of a select few, but of every
human being. The achievement of a transformation that
will effect all of humankind demands that moral leadership
be applied in the family, the classroom, the workplace, as
well as local, national and international organisations and
communities—in all areas of human interaction. At one
time or another, everyone must fulfil the role of moral leadership.
It appears that cultivating a portion of the world’s
population to exercise moral leadership is not our final destination,
but the first leg of our journey towards universal Moral
Education must prepare young minds to grasp complex
international realities and empower them to meet humanity’s
new challenges…education needs to be established upon
a vision of global community embodied in social relations
which are both progressive and peaceful, dynamic, yet in
harmonious equilibrium, allowing the full play of human
creativity, yet harnessing this titanic creative energy
to the sublimest moral ends and for the benefit of all.
— International Educational Initiatives, 1995, p.
In direct contrast to this explanation of the role of education,
which eloquently conveys the spirit and goals of moral citizenship,
are the appalling conditions found in schools today. These
signals of distress are evidence that not merely the content
of education must change but the process itself.
Education that has the power to transform the individual
and society must prepare children “...to relate in a
proper manner to the three worlds that humans inhabit, the
spiritual world of inner development, the social world of
interpersonal relations and the world of nature surrounding
us” (International Educational Initiatives, 1995, p.
4). Spiritual education—the acquisition of self-knowledge
and moral character—is the foundation of all learning
and action. If people know who they are and how they should
interact with others and the environment, they can better
apply knowledge and skills towards their own personal development
and the advancement of civilisation. Another vital aspect
the educational process is the use of higher order (critical
and creative) thinking skills. Both moral leadership and moral
citizenship require the ability to apply in real situations,
critical thinking skills such as comparing, contrasting, analysing
for bias and assumptions, prioritising and drawing conclusions.
Creative thinking skills such as predicting, hypothesising,
dealing with ambiguity and visualising are also needed in
planning, solution finding and conflict resolution. Similar
to spiritual education, higher order thinking skills must
be practised and integrated into all subject matter areas
at every level of education—pre-school, primary, secondary
Educational goals, that have a spiritual foundation, require
higher order thinking and inculcate moral citizenship, are
dedicated to the achievement of universal transformation for
the benefit of all humankind, and contribute to the process
of integration that is similar to those of the International
Educational Initiatives Curriculum (1999), shown below:
Educational goals comprise the road map that lets teachers,
learners and parents know where education will lead the learners.
If we believe that moral leadership and moral citizenship
are destinations we want to reach within this century, we’d
better start our journey now.
Anello, E. & Hernandez, J.B. (1996). Moral Leadership. Santa Cruz, Bolivia: Universidad Nur.
International Educational Initiatives. (1995). The Moral
Imperatives of Education—Model of Spiritually-based
Education. Yamaguchi, Japan: OnePress.
Johnson, J.; Higgins, M.; & Baker-Malungu, L. (1999). The International Educational Initiatives Ethically-and
Spiritually-Based Global Curriculum Guide (2nd ed.). Juneau,
Alaska: I.E.I., Inc.
Senge, P.M. (1990). The Fifth Discipline: The Art and
Practice of the Learning Organization. London: Random