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Ignite Talk (Ethics): 2015 Mandela Fellowship Assignment

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During the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellowship, towards the end of the program, every fellow in my school, University of Nevada-Reno, was tasked (challenged) to write an ‘Ignite Talk’ on Ethics. There were no rules, as long as the subject was ethics. The goal was for every school in the fellowship to present a talk during the DC presidential summit. Each school would end up choosing one submission and one person to present.

Below is my Ignite talk on Ethics. This is how I put it together to present so it may not flow like an article.

Three years ago, I would have never imagined standing here, in this moment, about to share with you a mind shift that has completely changed how I view myself, my family and friends, my country and the African continent. I have always wanted to change the world! but don’t we all? It’s too cliche hearing myself say it.

What do we really mean, when we say we want to change the world? we want to change processes, we want to save and make lives better, we want to create positive impact. What do we really mean?

I have realised that, we all want to do these things without looking at the root cause of the problem. Every second, minute, hour, there is someone campaigning to change the world. Right now, I ask the main question, HOW? We still hold up high, the few heroes who succeeded.

  • WHAT was different about them?
  • What is different about us?

The word ‘CHANGE’ has been used in so many bearings, and barely actualizes. It no longer galvanises communities and we constantly reiterate with hopes of instilling the vision.

We can never instil vision without igniting. It’s time to fire up the dream and reinvent the word CHANGE.
As Leo Tolstoy says, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself”.

The core of every human is the set of moral principles that govern behaviour. Ethical leadership drives conduct from inception to execution. Everyone has their own definition of what is morally right or wrong.
We can generally determine and accept what’s harmful as immoral, but we mostly associate universal immoral acts to physical occurrences.

Ghana and the African continent has given and invested in my success. This investment has motivated and inspired me to give back and help drive the reshaping of my country and the African continent. I believe that the reshaping must be done with Africa’s youth as a critical source of power for Africa’s development. Investing in the youth and future leaders of Africa means, redefining ethical practices consciously and unconsciously

Developing leaders in an ethically acceptable setting is important towards redefining ethical leadership to spiral individual, national and continental growth. Over 60% of Africans Are youthful. This means, we do not have an excuse to not build the next generation.


Ethics goes along with leadership. To empower the next generation of leaders

Firstly, we need to empower girls and women by building tools and environments to promote safety.

How do we define right or wrong here?

Ethical inequality: Unequal opportunities, cultural biases, economical and financial inequality lead to female disempowerment. Empowering women is equivalent to empowering an entire nation and continent. Women have the natural gift of nurturing. With more women leaders, our nations will be nurtured unconsciously towards development.

Secondly; mindfully implementing little chattels to unconsciously create the biggest change. For example, pollution and dirty surroundings is a big challenge in most African countries. We need to start Instituting ethical responsibility in doing what’s right towards development. Every individual is a potential leader.

leaders shape how we live
leaders inspire
leaders implement
leaders serve
leaders are an example

Implementing unconscious ethical leadership, directed by respect for ethical beliefs and values and for the dignity and rights of others, thus related to concepts such as trust, honesty, consideration, charisma and fairness, will propel the next generation of leaders to create hope, build confidence and promote safety.

I believe in Africa, and I have a more burning desire to be a driving force in it’s reshaping.

To play my part as a young leader. It all starts with ethical leadership.

It starts with Ethical leadership in our various organisations.
In our homes, communities, and circles.

Ethical leaders have a tremendous impact on how people in their organizations behave and what they achieve. Effective leaders focus on what’s right and exemplify to their people that they are there to help, and not to exploit the vulnerabilities of others. Their organizations typically respond to their example and their desire to serve others and make a positive difference.

characters make words, words makes sentences, so I want to challenge you all today, to challenge yourselves and the people around you to;

1. Incorporate ethics in your day to day activities. It’s difficult defining what is right and wrong, but you can create an atmosphere to define

what is right for development,
what is right for gender equality,
what is right for youth empowerment,
what is right for building confidence

2. Don’t think of ethics as a law or a set of regulations. Make no excuses. Make sure no one in your community is exempted from meeting the ethical standards set in your organisation. Hold everyone accountable, no excuses, no exemptions.

3. Finally, let’s celebrate positive ethical moments. It is not impossible! Rwanda is an example, the cleanest country on the continent. It wasn’t easy, but it took one leader, who said, not again, to transmute a bad situation.

I am here now, and I am convinced about the future. I look around and I am blessed to be in your presence. We are the leaders and change makers of Africa, and yes, that sounds cliche, but I challenge you all today, to join forces towards this reshaping

by redefining Legitimate power
coercive power and expert power
It starts with Ethical leadership, and I see that in every one of you.

Thank you!

thumbnail image source: ignitetalks.io

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