Canada’s breeding a new type of leaders: ethical ones

“Every study researching the hiring of a CEO within a company reports the same invariable qualities that these companies want: honesty and integrity,” says Don Page, Director of the Masters in Administration and Leadership.

Canada’s breeding a new type of leaders: ethical ones

Langley, B.C.—The bottom line. How much of our soul will we sell to get it? Business ideology and economic history says: all of it. According to leadership expert, Don Page, recent studies show that sixty percent of North American business students say they'd cheat in order to increase the bottom line for their company. It's no wonder that scandals from companies like Enron and Worldcom keep surfacing, breaking public trust and fuelling intuitions that leaders of wealthy corporations lack a moral conscience.

But Trinity Western University, aware of this growing marketplace crisis, teaches its students to choose ethics above personal gain. And according to Lynn Sharp Paine, Harvard Business School professor, there has been a subtle yet revolutionary shift in ethical practices, which has resulted largely from the growing public expectation that companies should act ethically—or reap financial consequences (Globe and Mail, August 6, 2003).

TWU professor Don Page, former Governmental Public Servant, and one of Canada’s ‘Who’s Who’ (1995-present) couldn’t agree more. Once a senior Policy Analyst and Speech Writer in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Page now pursues another calling.

“My passion is leadership development,” says Page, who has worked alongside some of Canada’s most powerful leaders.

In 1989, after 16 years in government, Page came to Trinity Western University as the Academic Vice President. Four years ago, Page gave up his prestigious position to develop a program more tightly linked to his passion for developing today’s leaders: The Trinity Western University Masters in Leadership (MAL) Program, a degree created for professionals currently working in their occupation.

On October 18, 2003, the third cohort of MAL students graduated with their MA in leadership. Three Langley residents, Carmen Meier, Karyn McMahon and Wendy Varley were part of that cohort and they received their MAL graduate degree (Meier with great distinction, McMahon and Varley with distinction), while two other Langley natives, Jalene Klassen and Ali Najafi received her MA in Counseling Psychology (Klassen with distinction).

Other current and graduating MAL students including CEO’s, pilots, consultants, educators, business leaders and healthcare professionals, came from all over the world—India, Africa, Hong Kong, St. Lucia, the Caribbean, China, Australia, Vietnam and North America—to cultivate their proficiency as effective and ethical leaders in their specific organization. They recognize that the most productive organization is characterized by a commitment to leadership and excellence. Ironically though, not every organization knows how to get there.

“Every study researching the hiring of a CEO within a company reports the same invariable qualities that these companies want: honesty and integrity,” says Page. “But when I ask those groups how you hire ethical, decision-making people, I get absolute blanks. This is because they don’t make honesty a criterion for hiring and therefore they don’t get the people they want. They of course get very competent people, but not necessarily very ethical people.”

“And that’s why I’m at TWU. The Masters in Leadership (MAL) program teaches current professionals how to emulate servant leadership and how to hire for that. Can you instill ethical principals into people in the work force? We’ve seen companies like Tyson Foods show you can.”

“And leadership is what sets this program apart from other MBA programs,” continues Page. “We don’t do business administration; we focus on ethical leadership which is different from management and administration. The learning is applied so it’s experiential and very practical.”

It’s also very intense. Created for professionals moving into more senior positions, the program allows students to continue working in their company while applying the learned principals to their organization. So according to Page, it’s really a mutual investment to improve the operation of the company.

During the 25 month program, students spend a month in class (six credits) for three summers and complete the rest of the courses online. Throughout the entire program students will complete five courses on-line and five courses in class.

But employers aren’t waiting till graduation to make the most of these students.

“So far, seventy percent of our business students have received promotions as result of being in the program—before they’ve even graduated,” explains Page. “And across all other streams it’s fifty percent. We’ve got directors who are now VP’s, teachers who are now vice principals and associate pastors who are now senior pastors.” Not bad for a program that’s only graduated three classes so far.

Last Updated: 2015-07-13
Author: Keela Keeping