12th Annual Conference: Virtuous Leadership and Character

Virtuous Leadership and Character

January 4th – 6th 2024

With the entrenchment of character education in schools, universities and continuing professional ethics education, the spotlight is moving to questions of virtuous leadership and the way it is shaped by the moral character of leaders. Virtuous leaders are seen as ethical stewards who seek to create organisational relationships and systems that build trust and earn the commitment of others. As most significant decisions in institutions and companies are taken by teams of leaders, there is also growing interest in expanding the construct of individual phronesis (practical wisdom) to encompass collective phronesis.

The aim of this conference is to bring together experts on business ethics and organisational wisdom, on the one hand, and experts on virtue ethics and character education, on the other, to look for synergies and new ideas that can enhance our understanding of the concept of virtuous leadership. Among the big questions that emerge here are: What kind of character profile does an ideal leader possess? How can character education, professional ethics education and CPD provisions help cultivate good leaders? What exactly does the mantra about ‘all teachers being leaders in the classroom’ really mean? At a more personal level, what does it mean to be a true leader of your own moral life?

The aim of the 2024 Jubilee Centre annual conference is to explore those questions and many more. Can theorists from philosophy, professional ethics, business and leadership, education, sociology, theology, history and psychology learn from each other’s work? How can insights from theory and practice be integrated?

We look forward to welcoming our keynote speakers for 2024: Professor Mary Crossan, Chair in Strategic Leadership, Ivey Business School at Western University; Professor Michael Lamb, F. M. Kirby Foundation Chair of Leadership and Character at Wake Forest University; and Dr. Gregory Jones, President of Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee.

We received an unprecedented response call for presentations falling under the broad theme of the conference. While our focus this time is on issues regarding the virtues in a leadership context, we will be explore other more general character-related issues from an educational, social scientific, philosophical, religious or practice-oriented perspective. There will be parallel sessions devoted to general topics in the area of character, virtue and character education. 

Registration for the conference has now closed.

If you have any queries regarding the conference, please contact

The Courage to Teach Character

If the current crisis of leadership reflects, in part, a crisis of character, then we must do more to educate leaders with the character and capacity needed to address and avert our most pressing challenges. Institutions of higher education have a vital role to play in this effort. Yet in the contemporary context, individuals and institutions face a number of difficulties that might impede or impair their efforts. This address seeks to identify educators’ most pressing challenges and explore why the virtue of courage is needed to both acknowledge legitimate difficulties and respond wisely to them.

The Strategic Impact of Character and Virtues

Character and virtues have been studied for millennia, yet there is still significant untapped potential. Whereas the influence and application of character and virtues in values and ethics is reasonably well understood, there is opportunity for significant strategic impact in both academia and in organisations to elevate character alongside competence. In response to the 2008 global economic crisis, we put “Leadership on Trial” to explore the failures of leadership and it was then that leaders around the world relayed that character was implicated, not only in stories of failure, but also stories of success. In this session we will explore insights, challenges and opportunities from our 15-year journey in research, teaching and practice that has sought to fulfil the potential that character and virtues affords to provide strategic impact.


Professor Crossan’s presentation slides from her keynote is available to view here. 

‘Who Seeks for a Spring in the Mud?’ Why Effective Leadership requires Character, Purpose, and an Entrepreneurial Mindset

The modern world has tended to focus on leadership either as a positional role of power or as a set of techniques and skills to mobilise people to action. What is missing in both approaches is the larger picture that will be unpacked in this lecture: why effective leadership requires the intersections of purpose (e.g., where is the community/organisation going?), character (e.g., are leaders to be trusted across time?), and an entrepreneurial mindset (e.g., are leaders really managers or are they capable of casting a vision for the future and executing on that vision?) for the sake of flourishing.

Service Learning, Servant Leadership and Virtuous Leadership – A Catholic View

This session presents two distinct Virtuous Leadership projects currently being undertaken within the Catholic Church, giving insights into the theoretical framework of each project, the concrete activities undertaken, and the response from participants to date. Key questions include, to what extent Catholic anthropology and morals differ when compared to secular concepts of Virtuous Leadership; if there are specific focal virtues; how these virtues can be taught; and if these faith-based concepts have an added value compared to secular leadership models.

From Skills To Virtues: The Challenge Of Leadership

The late Pope Benedict XVI urged his concern for the proper leadership training of future priests, bishops and lay people by promoting formation in the practical application of the virtues. In response, the Vatican Foundation Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI in partnership with the Expanded Reason Institute of the University Francisco de Vitoria developed and now offers a rigorous academic Diploma Program, called ‘Leadership: Service through Virtues’ (LSTV). This program is based on a virtuous leadership curriculum developed for future leaders within the differing traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. The presentation will show how the five participating pontifical universities in Rome provide centuries-old practical knowledge on virtuous leadership as a service for the good of contemporary and future society.

Service Learning, Servant Leadership and Virtuous Leadership – A Catholic View

Quality service-learning practices contribute to the education of servant leaders, learning virtues through practice, especially the central virtue of love “in deed and in truth” (1 John, 3:18). ‘Uniservitate’ is a global programme promoting service-learning as institutional policy in 31 Catholic Higher Education Institutions. The presentation will focus on how this approach is rooted in the social teaching of the Church and how it is enabling Catholic and secular Higher Education institutions to fulfill their mission of an integral education and, thus, to generate future agents for social change who will critically engage for a better society.

There Are No Leadership Virtues

In the modern world, leaders and followers are embedded within organisations. When leader names a role within organisations, leadership virtues are role virtues. Aristotle says that the roles and, therefore, the role virtues of citizens differ in states with different goals. Similarly, the roles and, therefore, the role virtues of leaders differ in organisations with different goals. For example, because the goals of businesses, churches, armies, states, and schools are different, the role virtues of CEOs, head clergy, generals, politicians, and principals are quite different. If leadership virtues are virtues common to leaders, then there are no leadership virtues.

Phronesis As Ethical Expertise And The Quest For Self-Leadership

Self-leadership has often been conceived as a way to maximise one’s performance, intended very broadly as a focus on results, rather than on moral motivation and intention. Being the leader of one’s own moral life can be identified as a process of human flourishing since it encompasses an active moral conscience characterised by self-determination and the realisation of one’s potential within a meaningful life. The aim of our talk is to highlight the prominence of phronesis as ethical expertise in self-leadership development. Phronesis as ethical expertise can ensure the necessary stability, flexibility, and creativity which make moral life effectively self-leading.

Truth-Telling, Transparency, And Organisational Trust: An Argument For Kantian Leadership

A good leader must have the ability to build and sustain trust within an organisation. Organisational trust is impossible in the absence of a robust commitment to truth-telling and transparency. In this paper, I explore what this commitment requires of leaders in professional contexts, drawing on Kant’s well-known but often misunderstood discussion of the duty not to lie. I use Kant’s reasoning to argue that leaders owe it to their organisations to be truth-tellers so far as possible. More generally, good leaders must cultivate the virtues of honesty and transparency if they are to build trusting and trustworthy communities.

Facilitating Collective Practical Wisdom On The Ward Morisprudence Through Moral Case Deliberation

Healthcare organisations such as clinics and hospitals require an ethical climate that fosters quality of care. Healthcare’s intrinsic moral dimension does not guarantee that all professionals are always able to work in an ethical and responsible manner. They are frequently confronted with difficult ethical issues, their (moral) motivation may be undermined (e.g. risk of ‘compassion fatigue’) and burn-out is lurking. In this predicament healthcare professionals need practical wisdom to make the right decisions and to stay standing. Virtuous leadership in healthcare may imply that leaders actively facilitate and stimulate frequent moral case deliberation on the ward. We argue how such deliberation may lead to so called ‘morisprudence’ and collective phronesis and contribute to a positive ethical climate.

From The Professions To The University: Theoretical Perspectives For A Character Education Programme Based On The Reading Of Phenomenological Texts

In this presentation, a conceptual framework for designing a character education programme for university students based on the reading of phenomenological texts is proposed. As the outcome of hermeneutic-phenomenological research, these texts transform lived experiences into written pieces that encourage readers to live a human phenomenon vicariously. Through the students’ contact with lived experiences of professionals practising different virtues in their professions, the aim is to awaken in them the desire to emulate, to reflexively ask themselves and wonder: “Couldn’t I also practise my future profession in this virtuous way?” Applications of phenomenological texts in character education are discussed.

The Workplace: An Environment For Growth. Leonardo Polo On Leadership As A Collaboration System

Leonardo Polo (1926-2013) developed a proposal that exalts freedom and the need to promote constructive relationships. For him, leadership is a system by which all institution members flourish because of a cooperative and stable activity. The system requires clear and long-term valuable goals to channel the spontaneous proactivity of human beings. That is why the coordination of tasks is a permanent challenge for the leader, who must harmonise flexibility and openness with far-sightedness. Temperance and fortitude are indispensable for exercising this combination of wisdom and phronesis, whose best outcome is the joy of sharing the fruits of joint endeavours.

Character Infused Leadership Models To Create Systemic Change In Education

By creating conducive environments that include modeling and education, today’s educators perpetuate values of character in teachers of tomorrow. Good character implies cultivation of values in our personal and moral lives and creating and sustaining environments expressing these values. We focused on integrity, respect, responsibility, and humility. We apply a model of pre-existing, precipitating, and sustaining group processes and provide examples at each level. We view our initiatives in the context of time: what happened in the past, where are we currently, and our hopes for the future. In this way character related initiatives become catalysts for transformation.

Principled Innovation In A Public University: Challenges And Opportunities

An institutional commitment to character as a core value opens possibilities to create conditions conducive to a principled approach to innovation. With this in mind, Arizona State University has identified Principled Innovation as its newest design aspiration, solidifying the university’s commitment to innovating with character and values at the forefront of its decisions and actions. This paper proposes intentional strategies for authentic integration of a virtues-based framework at a public institution that leverage existing assets while navigating and mitigating the possible individual, organisational, and systemic challenges that might otherwise become barriers to principled innovation.

The Moral Dimension Of University Leadership: Who Is It Good To Be?

Our presentation explores how leaders integrate their professional identity and broader moral identity, particularly in the context of university leadership. Using data collected from interviews with university leaders, we propose a framework for how personal commitments for moral development and human flourishing can align with professional judgments through initial hiring and ongoing formation. Additionally, we explore how to accomplish whole personal formation in a professional setting, the plurality of legitimate approaches toward goodness, and, in particular, how leaders can create an environment that is conducive to moral development and human flourishing.

Can Leadership Be Made Virtuous?

The theme of virtuous leadership and character may be approached via the problems posed by inadequate or worse leadership, through the solutions offered by the formation of good character through the cultivation of relevant virtues, and by considering historical precedents. This will explore all three, arguing that ‘virtuous leadership’ is in danger of being confused with extrinsic activism, that virtue and character education need to be keyed to the nature of specific activities, and that the history of medicine provides a helpful example with which to approach the issue of virtuous leadership and the difficulties in maintaining it.


Virtuous Leadership And The Separatist Thesis

The separatist thesis holds that in professional contexts certain individuals justifiably have specialised duties and obligations that are distinct from ordinary morality because of the expertise and the roles they play. For this reason, the separatist thesis has been used to justify actions on the part of experts that may conflict with or be contrary to the demands of ordinary morality. From the perspective of virtue ethics and virtuous leadership, leaders have a special obligation to promote the goal and aims of the institution that might require actions or decisions separate from or even in conflict with ordinary morality.

The Conductor’s Leadership: A Model Of Trust, Collaboration, And Moral Character

This paper explores orchestra conductors’ unique leadership, focusing on moral character’s role in establishing trust and collaboration between the conductor and the orchestra members as well as among the orchestra members themselves. Psychological research shows how the conductor orchestra relationship is based on deference, empathy, and emphasis on the common good. The conductor’s leadership model (which resonates with several contemporary leadership theories) shifts from hierarchical authority to mutual respect and voluntary compliance, emphasising trust. It can benefit leaders in various fields – and improve organisational performance and outcomes – by offering insights into how to cultivate deep connections, shared purpose, and collaboration.

Virtuous Leadership in Combat

The 2023 Strategic Defence and Security Integrated Review reflects the acceleration of heightened danger in the world and the swift transition to a multipolar, divided, and contested state, necessitating the British Army to adapt to a theatre of operations lying between peace and war. This new reality requires military agility characterised by the rapid deployment of lightly equipped soldiers into unfamiliar and unsupported environments, which can place them under extreme physiological and psychological pressure. As autonomous leadership regulates the use of lethal force within overarching principles, it is crucial that it is based on established moral virtues and unwavering character.

Tradition as a Lens to Interpret Approaches to Leadership Insights from the Third Sector

MacIntyre claims the highest source of authority from which an individual can reason is tradition. This presentation draws on data from Christian and secular homelessness charities. The approach to leadership adopted by the CEOs and managers appeared to be based upon moral arguments from the practices and traditions to which they belonged. Some participants approved of their superiors because their overall interests aligned, but others perceived an incongruence between the practices and traditions of their leaders and those of their own, disagreeing with their approach. This suggests that leader-follower (in)congruence is a matter of compatibility between goods and beliefs.

Justice In Leadership: The State of the Field

A review of the literature on justice and leadership suggests that the field is dominated by a paradigm of organizational justice which avoids philosophical discussion of justice as a normative concept. A small number of studies venture in-depth discussions of justice as a moral principle or virtue, but there is no broad agreement on what just leadership requires. A Thomistic-Aristotelian account of justice as a virtue of leadership sees justice as the virtue of rational action towards others and the world around us, and it has implications for leaders, including clear principles for leadership practice and management education.

Trait Characteristics Of Exemplary Military Leaders

In today’s U.S. Army when unexpected setbacks or opportunities arise, subordinates have license to improvise or use phronesis to accomplish their commander’s intended outcome. We suggest that cadets at the United States Military Academy (USMA), who are nominated by their peers as exemplars, possess certain patterns of strengths of character that would be helpful to accomplish individual phronesis. We believe our results may lend insight into what traits contribute to being an effective moral leader – and whether elements associated with exhibiting phronesis at both the individual and organisational level are socially valued by peers.

Re-Thinking DEI for Organizations and Leaders: A Neo-Aristotelian Model

The theory and practices associated with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are controversial. Proponents argue that these qualities are essential to flourishing institutions; critics contend that the theories are incoherent and the practices harmful. In this paper, I defend a neo-Aristotelian model. Theoretically, DEI makes better sense as organisational virtues in a framework that includes a robust telos. Practically, conceptualising DEI as organisational virtues enables us to leverage distinctions between virtues and practices and between individual and organisational traits. This model provides a coherent structure that is consistent with social science and that provides guidance for leaders and researchers.

Virtuous Leadership And Character: A Strategic Approach To Character-Based Leadership Through Technology

Institutions and organisations are recognising the importance of character and while there has been some shift to a focus on development, the next frontier is to examine how it can be embedded. Most programmes support what we refer to as a ‘temporary bump’ that is critical to lay the groundwork for development but doesn’t support sustainable change. Leveraging app-based learning is an innovative and strategic approach that can support the embedding of character leadership development to support sustainable change both in academic institutions and industry. This session will present a research-based programme bringing together theory and practice that draws on the power of technology to provide accessible, scalable, and customizable programmes that creates a system conducive for character leadership development.

How Do School Leaders, Teachers, And Students Perceive Virtue In Leadership And Character? An Australian Case Study

As education systems worldwide transition from COVID-19 emergency to management modes, many face an unprecedented teacher shortage crisis that redefines the teaching profession and demands leadership at all levels. Character and wellbeing-related education theories and research developments have been increasingly taught in schools. These advances have helped us understand individual and collective phronesis and how individuals and communities flourish within various institutional structures. Examining teachers’ perspectives at an Australian coeducation school, this presentation asks; ‘How do character education programs and whole-school strategies for collective phronesis and wellbeing help individuals and communities flourish?’.

Practical Wisdom: The Core DNA Of Leadership For Flourishing

Educators face quandaries daily that require ethical perception, nuanced thinking, and judgment calls, not one-size-fits-all answers. The array of possible choices exists in tension. Justice and fairness must coexist with mercy and compassion. Compliance must make room for flexibility in special cases. This paper draws on qualitative data from educational leaders in K-12 schools across the United States to provide a descriptive account of how they use the Practical Wisdom Framework™ as an intervention to model, coach and teach practical wisdom and collective phronesis in the context of their daily decision-making. We hear from them how small shifts can contribute to leadership for flourishing.

Transformational Leadership In The Classroom

What exactly does the mantra about all teachers being leaders in the classroom really mean? We argue that leadership is a process where one person exhibits at least one virtue with more excellence than she would have exhibited if she had conformed to convention, at least one person experiences an other-praising emotion, and the other person or people follow by imitating or acting in a way that is complementary to the first person’s action. With this definition of leadership, we elaborate the process by which teacher leaders help accelerate the character development of students.

Symposium on Author Meets Critics: Kristjánsson on Friendship for Virtue (Oxford university press, 2022)

Inspired by Aristotle, Kristjánsson’s Friendship for Virtue (Oxford University Press, 2022) accords the prominence friendship merits within contemporary virtue ethics. In so doing he harmonises Aristotelian theory with recent social scientific research on friendship. Kristjánsson extends and updates Aristotle’s thought, offering a more realistic understanding of how even the best friendships can dissolve. This panel offers a charitable and critical reading of this important text, considering especially the implications for the teaching and cultivation of virtue.

Virtues of good leadership: Is there a universal set of leadership virtues and if so what virtues should be included in it?


Good leadership is necessary for the flourishing of organisations and urgently needed to address wide-ranging global challenges. Increased interest in character-based approaches has accompanied the challenges of recent years but there is a lack of consensus as to how character-based leadership should be defined and what virtues should be emphasized. Determining what is needed is important as it is the first step before making strategic plans to develop such virtues among current and future leaders. This paper reviews the literature that focuses on determining essential character traits of good leadership, exploring their philosophical foundations, empirical methodologies, conclusions, applications, and limitations.

Good leadership in the sectors of finance, law, and tech: A prototype analysis in UK businesses

Between 2020 and 2023, The Oxford Character Project undertook a large-scale project named ‘virtues and vocations’ which sought to identify the virtues most necessary for leadership within the UK business sectors of finance, law and technology. This session will present one of the core pieces of research conducted by the team, bringing forth the survey results from 1342 UK business employees exploring perceived features and attributes of a ‘good leader’. This series of studies sought to understand what it means to be a good leader in the sectors of finance, law and technology as perceived by those currently working, and leading in these areas of work. We utilised a prototype analysis design as means to achieve this bottom-up approach to understanding current good leadership in each sector.

The impact of character-based leadership in low- and middle-income countries: a systematic review

Since character and virtues promote individual and communal flourishing, character-based leadership is expected to lead to positive outcomes for individuals and organisations. Establishing the empirical links between character-based leadership and its outcomes is important as the difficulty of justifying the relevance or importance of character and virtues is one of the biggest barriers to promoting character development within organisations worldwide. This paper presents a review of 720 papers on the impact of character-based leadership in 137 low- and middle-income countries. It points to the wide-ranging and multi-level effects of character-based leadership for individuals, organisations and society.

Toward The Virtuous Mover: A Review Of One Researcher’s Efforts At Studying Character Education Through The Field Of Physical Education And Sport Pedagogy

The virtuous mover, the notion that one can become virtuous through meaningful engagement in, and experiences with, movement, physical activity, and sport, is a complex and understudied paradigm. The purpose of this presentation, therefore, is to review one researcher’s efforts at studying this paradigm within physical education and youth sport settings, and to acknowledge some possible philosophical, methodological, and pedagogical implications for the field of character and leadership education. To that end, I describe how an (neo) Aristotelian philosophy of physical education and sport pedagogy could potentially benefit movement culture and lead toward the creation of virtuous movers.

The Impact Of The Practical Wisdom For Agile Leadership (PWAL) – Executive Education Program On Educational Leaders

This paper explores the impact of the Practical Wisdom for Agile Leadership (PWAL) programme for K-12 leaders from November 2022 to May 2023. Grounded in Aristotle’s notion of practical wisdom, it emphasises the “how” of teaching practical wisdom. The PWAL Programme applies the Practical Wisdom Framework (PWF) to develop leaders’ ability to make wise decisions aligned with their school’s goals. The impact study, using a mixed-method approach, indicates significant growth in participants’ wise reasoning, and their commitment to adopting the PWF practices, resulting in changes to their leadership practices, and shifts in their dispositions. The observed outcome of the study provides some evidence that growth in practical wisdom can be cultivated through intentional educational experiences.

Purpose Led Sustainable And Virtuous Banking

Is the leadership model in banking today fit for purpose and how can it be strengthened to ensure the long-term sustainability of the traditional banking industry? This abstract explores whether collective prosperity is achievable by establishing a purpose led approach, responsible for the creation of added value for society with the flourishing of individuals as an end in itself. In Santander Corporate and Investment Banking we are aiming to embed day-to-day behaviours, foster generosity of spirit and the right ´tone from within’ our Culture Program, underpinned by three core content-based values: excellence, psychological safety and collaboration.

The Claims Of Reasonableness

Were Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill great leaders? None can doubt that they represent two opposites where the former is quoted as an example not to be followed. Both have aroused masses of people by their rhetorical powers but only Churchill is remembered as an outstanding example of ethical leadership. I want to discuss here criteria of effective political leadership that can be eventually extended also to business and education leadership. The general idea is that as we find overlapping in effective leadership between politics, business and education, we can also find a general overlapping once we consider the necessary features of an ethical leadership. I shall address the latter in terms of the ethics of virtues, as directed by the meta-virtue of reasonableness. A filter composed by virtues and reasonableness allows to highlight what makes the difference between those two cases of leadership.

The Ethical and Educational Ambiguities of Teacher Leadership

Teachers are often encouraged to be leaders or to show leadership in the classroom or more broadly in schools. I will argue that encouraging teachers to be leaders is ethically and educationally hazardous because it inadvertently may cause teachers to focus on their own selves in a way that compromises the development of virtue and knowledge. Thinking of oneself as a leader, an act that directs one’s attention and consciousness, can undermine some of the virtues and intellectual capacities associated with good teachers. I will make this argument with reference to Iris Murdoch’s philosophical writings on humility, attention, and consciousness.

Cardinal Virtues Of Leadership

This paper will present a cardinal virtues approach to understanding virtuous character and leadership. It identifies good judgment, being conscientious in filling the responsibilities of one’s position, and commitment to the good(s) of the collective entity one leads as cardinal virtues. It incorporates a conception of leading as identifying and inspiring confidence in a good way forward for the collective one leads. This conception of leading by articulating a good way forward for the whole – rather than through ‘incentivising’ individuals, or in some other way – gives this conception of leading (and the corresponding conception of following) an irreducibly ethical dimension.

An Exploration Of Civic Friendship: From Aristotle’s Ethics To Martin Luther King JR’s Political Leadership

As civic life has become ever more polarised, we are in need of leaders who are able to articulate a vision that brings extraordinarily diverse populations together to seek the common good. In support of this vision, we propose that the Aristotelian concept of civic friendship is an idea whose time has come again. We provide background in both the philosophy and practice of civic friendship, first tracing its philosophical roots in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, and then turning to the practical outworking of civic friendship in the writing and life of Martin Luther King Jr.

Some Observations On The Idea Of Servant Leadership

Drawing on established literature and recent empirical studies of perceptions of good leadership this paper examines ambivalence towards some identified qualities of servant leadership (SL). In prototype analyses of good leadership across industry sectors, an imbalanced spread of features associated with SL was found, leading one to question whether only some elements of SL resonate with employees, and if its popularity lies in only some core factors; perhaps those most associated with leaders as opposed to servants? In addition to discussing why this ambivalence might exist, suggestions are offered as to how this could be further scrutinised.

Religious And Non-Religious Young Adults’ Understanding Of Patience

We live in a world increasingly beset by conflict and strife. Religious, political, and social divides seem vaster than ever. Practicing patience or staying calm but actively engaged in the face of frustration, suffering, or waiting, may enable people to navigate the discord so prevalent today. Given the promise patience holds to help people navigate an increasingly divided world, the construct has garnered increased scholarly attention. To support these efforts, this talk will share emerging findings from a qualitative study designed to explore how young adults from different religious backgrounds think about patience and the value they place on it.

Cultivating Moral Reasoning: An Empirical Study on the Impact of an Ethical Dilemma Reflection Framework

Opportunities to practice and reflect in community can empower aspiring leaders to navigate critical incidents with a moral compass. In this study aspiring school leaders engaged in ethical dilemma conversations during the initial course in an educational leadership master’s program. An ethical dilemma reflection framework was implemented as a vehicle to cultivate the capacity for character-based decision making. The study uses a pre and post experimental design to assess if the intervention resulted in measurable growth. Quantitative data gathered via the DIT2 assessment offers evidence of growth in a positive direction. Data aggregated over five cohorts demonstrates statistical significance.

Developing Leaders With Character. Evaluating Two Programmes: A Freely Available Online Leadership Course And A Global Youth Social Action Movement

This presentation explores two programmes (an online course, Leading with Character, and the youth social action programme, Global Social Leaders) that encourage people to exercise leadership, wherever they are, and to do so with courage, love, and hope. Both programmes aim to demonstrate that leadership is not about a role or a position; rather it is about who you are: your character. We describe the design and development of these programmes and share lessons learnt as well as insights into the impact of the Global Social Leaders programme.

Developing Virtuous Leaders In Medical School

Most medical school curricula offer little virtue-based guidance on how to be a good physician. We co-developed a seed grant program with student teams to develop programmatic intervention within medical school. Over 1 year, we met with those teams quarterly on their progress and engaged in virtues-based reflections on their leadership. We employed repeated practice, safe and mutual accountability, personal experience, identifying cultural pressures, and building on the understanding noted by Lamb et al in Journal of Character Education (2021). Post project, we interviewed student leaders of four teams and two curricular leaders on their experience.

Transforming Leaders to Transform Hospitals

The character education of leaders has often been neglected. The absence of clear ethical references has led the majority of our hospitals and clinics to embrace models in which the only criteria seem to be efficiency, productivity, and profit, forgetting their main aim: taking a good care of patient’s need. During my talk I will thus defend the hypothesis that working on leader’s character by teaching them practical wisdom might be the turning point in this respect. It is only by helping leaders to flourish through dedicated programs that it will be truly possible to positively transform our hospitals and clinics.

Virtues, Vices and Leadership: Negotiating Ethical Conundrums for Leaders in Higher Education in Health and Social Care

This paper explores leadership virtues and vices, focussing on higher education in health and social care. Here expectations that leadership styles should mirror the espoused values of professional practice add extra complexity. Are ‘Machiavellian’ leadership qualities cultivated in the business sector, such as economy with the truth or fake compassion, vices in the context of health and social care education? Can we distinguish effective from ethical leadership? What role do virtues play? Starting from a scenario depicting a leader’s response to a challenging situation, we offer two commentaries drawing out implications for health and social care leadership in higher education.

Dialectical Virtue: Dialogic Integrity through Paired Exemplars

Drawing on recent work on exemplarity by Jonathan Lear (2022), David Carr (2023), and Michael Lamb (2021), this paper explores the metaphor of exemplarity. First, we wonder whether the metaphor of exemplarity crowds out local and imperfect examples of human flourishing. Who inspires us to become better? Someone who is saintlike? Perhaps. But also, someone who, like us, is all too human but still decent. Second, the idea of emulation presupposes a one-way transmission: exemplar teaches the student. Yet, history tells us that the one-way transmission model of influence has rarely led to anything like justice.

Scaling Toward Virtue: Moral Leadership And Organisational Growth

The larger the organisation, the more complex. The more complex, the more challenges that arise. Good leaders preserve their organisations moral core amid such challenges. They do so by living intentionally and relationally, with a concern for the flourishing of themselves and others. But how can one accomplish this when the outlay of processes increases the risk that moral reasoning is supplanted by managerial excess? In this paper, we consider how virtuous leaders can help their organisations to scale while remaining true to the ethical call not to lose sight of individual persons in pursuit of organisational growth.


Ethicists have long touted the importance of phronesis, or practical wisdom, in virtue expression and development, but empirical inquiry has struggled to operationalise the construct. In this presentation, we explore the ways in which practical wisdom might be quantified in relation to two virtues, patience and courage. We propose that researchers might capture the processes underlying phronesis by examining patience and courage (a) in relation to goal pursuit and (b) in relation to each other as counterbalancing partners, showing analyses and supporting this approach for cross-sectional and longitudinal studies.

Locating ‘Leadership‘ In Singapore’s Character And Citizenship Education

In light of the contemporary complex and ambiguous operating environment, leaders are expected to possess virtuous character. Accordingly, student leadership programmes designed by educational institutions in Singapore link leadership and character together, aiming to develop virtuous leadership. Such programmes are anchored in national-level policy documents by the Ministry of Education, like the Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) syllabus. Yet, such documents draw no explicit link between character and leadership. This paper asks why such a disconnect exists, and attempts to locate the concept of ‘leadership‘ within CCE to bridge the gap between schools’ curricular design and larger educational policy.

The Nature Of Citizenship Education In Singapore 1950-2020

Few governments have pursued compulsory citizenship education with as much tenacity and vigour as Singapore’s People’s Action Party government. The party’s 1959 election manifesto and subsequent speeches and policies manifested its strong enduring belief in the primacy of education in shaping citizens. In this paper, we trace the historical evolution of citizenship education in Singapore and argue that, despite the shift from a piecemeal to systemic approach in citizenship education, the core purpose of citizenship education to create the ideal citizen remained unchanged, leading to tensions between the conceptual ideal citizen and preparing citizens for success in a globalised world.

Leadership-Focused School Redesign For Effective Character Education: The Case Of Primed And VLace

This paper presents two leadership training programmes focused on redesigning schools to promote student character development in diverse cultural contexts. This is especially relevant for researchers, practitioners, and policy makers who are searching for replicable interventions to promote character development in schools, particularly in those countries where the character education movement has not arrived yet. It includes the theoretical framework that lays the groundwork for this kind of leadership training, a description of the PICE and vLACE programs, their impact, and their increasing international demand.

A Conceptual Analysis Of Collective Phronesis For Virtuous Leadership

In the context of growing public apathy towards the corruption and inefficacy of politics, the notion of ‘virtuous leadership’ has been gaining attention over recent years. In this paper, I will propose one way to navigate oneself in this minefield. Firstly, I will focus on proposing a two-pronged philosophical approach as an insightful method for illumination of human understanding. I will then move on to explore the concept of ‘collective phronesis’ and emergent wisdom through Nonaka’s conception of ‘Ba’ coupled with the world café method. As I will suggest, virtuous leadership is always predicated on the value of collective insights.

Individualising Character For Leadership Practice

This paper emphasises the need for individualising moral character development, both in individual education and organisational contexts, particularly in the realm of leadership. It argues that character education factually educates different kinds of people who acquire virtues to different degrees and become virtuous differently, turning the recognition of the uniqueness of every individual’s moral growth into the real and starting point of virtue education. Practical wisdom (phronesis) is identified as a pivotal virtue in individualising moral development, as it enables how moral development for every individual should be developed or intentionally established. Accordingly, in organisational contexts, a sound form of collective allowing individualisation phronesis is also required to encourage and promote coexisting people of different sorts to become virtuous.

Who Is An Ethical Leader? Perspectives From International Youth

Research demonstrates beneficial outcomes associated with ethical leadership at work. While business leaders define ethical leadership via character strengths such as fairness and interpersonal behaviours, a youth perspective of this topic is missing. Utilising student work gathered during implementation of The Good Project’s lesson plans, this study aims to investigate youths’ understandings of ethical leaders and role models. Preliminary findings suggest that youth often identify famous figures as ethical leaders and value altruism in role models. The study aims to bring youth voices into conversation around ethical leadership and may support investigations into the role of eudaimonia in ethical conduct.

The Moral Psychology Of Emulation: Implications For Role-Model-Driven Virtuous Leadership

Of the many facets of virtuous leadership, this paper focuses on virtuous leaders as moral role models, i.e., facilitators of emulation. Using a previous two-step account of emulation as a philosophical springboard, I here extend it through appeal to current research in developmental moral psychology. In doing so, I make visible the importance of phronesis to virtuous leadership, and more specifically of ‘entangled phronesis’ as the psycho-moral mechanism which drives emulation through a combination of virtuous action, verbal reason giving and non-verbal mind reading. The result: a psychologically realistic and developmentally adequate theory of emulation qua role modelling.

Can Exemplars Promote Character Development in the Wake of Adversity

Can narratives of moral leaders and role models who have overcome adversity help facilitate character growth following the experience of adversity? We make a theoretical case that some exemplars promote character development in those who have suffered, not primarily because they generate feelings of admiration, but because those who have suffered can identify with the exemplar, who is valuable because they show the possibility of overcoming adversity. We will show how this view of exemplars, and their effectiveness, is supported by psychological theorising about the importance of identification with exemplars and suggest possibilities for new directions in exemplar research.

Engaging Ambiguity And Leading In A Moral Ambiguous World – Developing And Validating A Scale On Engagement With Moral Ambiguity (EMA)

Decisiveness is a crucial leadership quality, especially when facing uncertainty and ambiguity. Ambiguity, often overlooked, can lead to conflict and organisational failure. This study introduces the concept of “Engagement with Moral Ambiguity” (EMA) and presents four studies involving 1200 participants to validate an EMA scale. The scale comprises six dimensions: perception of moral ambiguity, comfort with it, willingness to engage in it, efficacy in handling it, recognising its value, and the ability to make ethical choices beyond prescribed rules. The study establishes construct validity and highlights the importance of EMA in leadership, decision-making, and character development.

Developing Virtuous Leaders And Culture In Higher Education: The Texas Tech University System’S Academy For Lifelong Leaders

Many people observe a dearth of leaders of character in our world. The Texas Tech University System’s Office of Leader and Culture Development created the Academy for Lifelong Leaders to develop faculty, staff, and students of character prepared to address the challenges of an increasingly complex world. In this paper, we discuss how the Academy provides character and leader development across five universities through organisational Values Summits and six virtues-focused people development programs: Our Values Initiative |Emerging Leaders |Student Leader Development Program |Next-Level Leaders |Leader Foundations |One Team Fellows.

Cultivating Character Leadership With Undergraduates At A University In Asia

In 2021, the University of Hong Kong inaugurated its character leadership programme entitled Lead for Life. Lead for Life is a four-year, transformational journey designed to equip students with the character and skills to build flourishing communities. The programme includes over 500 undergraduate students and some 95 mentors. This paper discusses Lead for Lifes strategic pillars, distinctive features and introduces its twin aspirations of being replicable and sustainable. The paper also presents some of the lessons learned in a recent review of the programme.

Leadership Hearts, Norms, And Virtues At The University Of Kansas

If virtuous leaders are stewards who create organisational relationships and systems that build trust and earn the commitment of others, then virtuous leadership in a university setting and how it’s shaped by the moral character of leaders, depend on leaders’ perspectives about organisational structure, and how they define their roles and responsibilities within that structure. Bichelmeyer will describe her vision of university structure as a network of networks, the six values that guide KU leaders, and the strategies that have been used to set expectations, engage individuals and teams, provide resources, and motivate action. Snow will present ideas from social science about how to leverage KU’s leadership values to promote institutional change.

Students’ Perceptions of Their Moral Growth in College:
A Case Study of Moral Influences

Research describing students’ perceived moral growth, instead of research based on a scholar’s pre-determined vision of moral growth, is sorely lacking. What do students themselves perceive as the nature and extent of their moral development or regression during their college years? What do they identify as the major positive or negative influences on their moral growth or decline? These two research questions guided this qualitative case study at Baylor University. Through interviews with a 69-person representative sample of undergraduates in their senior year, we asked students to describe what factors stimulated the moral growth they experienced during their years at Baylor. Interestingly, students pointed to their peers and the co-curriculum as the primary sources of moral influence. Through a variety of college contexts, they learned to practice various virtues and acquired new moral mentors and models from whom they gained “moral expertise.” Campus student organizations and other student groups helped students engage in service, acquire leadership virtues, and find older moral mentors.  By contrast, the curricular domain was seen as less influential, providing mainly limited cognitive moral knowledge relevant to their professional lives.