King Speaks of Leadership – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

King Speaks of Leadership

As the second guest of the Leadership Café, Instructor of Philosophy Rodmon King outlined his own path to leadership, crediting his parents, in particular his father, for pushing him to follow his passions, even when that meant leaving the security of an astrophysics major to take up philosophy. King said he was further influenced by a summer job spent working on a farm, where he learned the value of hard work and physical labor.

Focusing on the learned and conscientious thought process behind leadership, what he termed “ethical leadership,” King explained that this type of leader positions their values and morals before an end product or an outcome. “To be an ethical leader is to invite a constant tension between one’s values as an individual and the steady societal influences that cite success is achieved through the acquisition of money, power or possession.”    

Timothy Carter  ’12, who attended King’s talk, agreed.  “We must have the courage to make kindness, respect, intellectual curiosity, and dedication daily habits,” said Carter, a philosophy and English double major with a minor in poetry education. He is part of the Teacher Certification Program and the Chief Editor of Thel.

Being a leader, explained King, is also about the challenges that one must face when communicating or working with another individual who morally stands in opposition of his or her beliefs.  Offering up his own personal experience, King detailed the personal challenge he faced sitting on a Neo-Nazi panel.

“This challenged everything I had learned about keeping an open mind or working to listen to another’s point of view,” explained King, who explained that ethical thought processes can provide some tools for patiently disarming those that offend the most.  

Margaret Manko ’14, who attended the Café, feels that King’s words had a positive impact on her. “I found myself trying to communicate better with others and making the effort to see situations from others’ points of view,” said Manko. “I have also been trying to find out what truly makes me happy and how I can achieve this happiness during my time at HWS.” Manko, who plans to major in psychology and minor in economics and writing and rhetoric, is the house manager of the Bridge the Gap theme house.

After his talk, King fielded several questions from the audience, including how leaders should address an authenticity deficit. “Everyone is responsible to stand up for his or her beliefs and we must all share in taking action against injustice,” said King. 

History, said King, is not always kind to leaders who compromise or negotiate behind the scenes. “A critical leadership skill, it frequently goes unnoticed or must be done out of the public eye.  This is a part of the self-sacrifice that leaders must make in order to steer his or her followers through conflict.” 

The CCL’s Leadership Café is a new program that invites campus leaders to share their personal stories, unique perspectives and insightful leadership lessons with students.  Designed to be unrehearsed and uncensored, the Leadership Café will feature a different campus leader who will be asked to chronicle their personal leadership experiences. Don’t miss these familiar campus faces retelling the various life crossroads, professional dilemmas and leadership challenges every second Thursday of the month.