Exploring the Use and Abuse of Power by Leaders
1.What types of power do the major figures in the film use?
2.How does the abuse of power by King’s opponents contribute to his success?
3.How does King appeal to white audiences?
4.What character weaknesses do you note in President Johnson? Do you find anything in his character to admire?
1.Create an ethics journal. In it, describe the ethical dilemmas you encounter as a leader and as a follower, how you resolve them, how you feel about the outcomes, and what you learn that will transfer to future ethical decisions. You may also want to include your observations about the moral choices made by public figures. Make periodic entries as you continue to read this text.
2.Harvard professor Rosabeth Kanter argues that “powerlessness corrupts and absolute powerlessness corrupts absolutely.”57 Do you agree? What are some of the symptoms of powerlessness?
3.What does your score on the Destructive Leader Behavior Scale (Self-Assessment 1.1) reveal about your leader? How can you use this information to become a more effective follower? As an alternative, reflect on your Personal Power Profile (Self-Assessment 1.2). What do your scores reveal about your attitude toward power and the ethical issues you might face in exercising power? Would you like to change your power profile? How can you do so?
What factors do you consider when determining the extent of your loyalty to an individual, a group, or an organization?
5.Debate the following propositions in class:
The federal government should set limits on executive compensation.
Coaches should be held accountable for the actions of their players in the off-season.
Corporate leaders have an obligation to be loyal to their employees.
Married politicians and religious figures who have extramarital affairs should be forced to resign.
Employers have the right to monitor the behavior of workers when the workers are not on the job.
6.Evaluate the work of a corporate or nonprofit board of directors. Is the board made up largely of outside members? Are the members qualified? Does the board fulfill its leadership responsibilities? Write up your findings.
7.Which shadow are you most likely to cast as a leader? Why? What can you do to cast light instead? Can you think of any other ethical shadows cast by leaders?
8.Write a research paper on the privacy issues surrounding drones and/or police body cameras. Conclude with a set of recommendations on how these issues should be resolved.
9.Look for examples of unethical leadership behavior in the news and classify them according to the six shadows. What patterns do you note? As an alternative, look for examples of ethical leadership. How do these leaders cast light instead of shadow?
10. What is the toughest ethical challenge of being a follower? How do you meet that challenge?
1.Who is most to blame for failing to stop John Du Pont’s downward spiral?
2.Do you blame the members of Team Foxcatcher for staying on even as Du Pont’s behavior became more erratic?
3.What are the costs of speaking up to powerful leaders? How do we equip ourselves to do so?
4.Can you think of other leaders whose power and/or wealth put them at great risk?
5.How can colleges and nonprofits ensure that donors don’t exert too much influence over their activities?