Speaker Offers Students Lesson in Ethical Leadership
CEO Urges Business Honor Society Inductees to Go Well Beyond the Minimum
Apr. 15, 2011
Now, more than ever, ethical leaders are at a premium in the business world, speaker Todd M. Bluedorn told a recent assembly of UT Dallas School of Management students and guests.
Bluedorn, CEO of heating, cooling and refrigeration company Lennox International, shared this observation at the April 12 induction of new members into the school’s chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma, an international business honor society.
Todd M. Bluedorn
As the keynote speaker and chapter’s honorary inductee, Bluedorn focused on his definition of ethical leadership.
At a baseline level of compliance, he said, ethical leaders don’t lie, cheat or steal. “Don’t lie to your investors; don’t steal from your customers; don’t cheat by unfairly competing with your competitors,” he advised initiates into the group, whose three Greek letters, Beta Gamma Sigma, stand for honor, wisdom and earnestness.
While that baseline is important, Bluedorn said, it represents a “minimum requirement.” At a higher level in leading companies and organizations, ethical leaders demonstrate “selflessness … a belief in the concept of being a servant leader.”
Business leaders “have to be more than ‘coin-operated’ and driven by something other than pure self-interest,” he said, and the self-interests they do have need to be balanced “by an equally strong interest in creating value for shareholders, employees and customers.”
To Bluedorn, ethical leaders also exhibit courage, and a willingness and ability “to speak truth to power.” And they have a capacity for balance, working with empathy and looking “to de-escalate emotions when others are looking to escalate them.”
In introducing Bluedorn, past chapter president and School of Management Professor Constantine Konstans called him “an outstanding leader and role model.”
A West Point undergraduate who subsequently served five years in the Army as a combat engineer officer and Ranger, Bluedorn later earned an MBA from Harvard University. He served in senior management posts at companies such as Otis Elevator and Carrier Corporation before being appointed CEO at Richardson-based Lennox in 2007.
Bluedorn began his speech by congratulating his fellow inductees and pointing out the high standards for Beta Gamma Sigma, which serves programs accredited by AACSB International — The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Only undergraduate juniors and seniors ranking in the top 10 percent of their class, and graduate and doctoral students with a 3.85 grade-point average are invited to join.
“This is extremely competitive,” chapter president Monica Powell, a School of Management associate dean, told the inductees. “All of you went above the bar.”
In all, the chapter welcomed 106 new members besides Bluedorn, 43 of whom attended the ceremony.