MacArthur School Event Examines Leadership for ‘Common Good’

Self-interest must equal the common good, and the common good must equal self-interest, leadership expert Vikki Pryor said during a public talk at Palm Beach Atlantic University on Thursday.

Vikki Pryor

Vikki Pryor speaks in the DeSantis Family Chapel.

In a message titled “Evolving Leadership: The Nexus between the Common Good and Individual Self-Interest,” Pryor, principal of the thought leadership company Create Change Transform, said that in order to preserve the common good, personal freedom and individual responsibility and accountability must be protected.

Pryor, whose 30 years of business experience included becoming the first African-American woman to lead a national insurance company, urged the audience to embrace “transformational leadership and not the transactional leadership that we’ve been held hostage to over the last few years,” she said.

She said recent polls indicate that a crisis of leadership exists and that the public expects its leaders to be celebrities. Leadership requires trust, she said.

Also, leaders must concern themselves with justice rather than fairness, she said. She gave an example of a pie that is to be divided between four people.

Slicing it into identical pieces isn’t leadership, she said. “In most instances in life, the pie is not divided equally, because it shouldn’t be … this isn’t about being fair. It’s about what works and being just.”

Another key is letting team members know they are valued, she said. “Once people know they are valued, they will take their leap to the common good over self-interest.”

She cautioned that choosing the common good over self-interest is rarely a popular path. “Self-interested leaders are usually joined by other self-interested leaders who are like-minded,” she said.

Jerms McGraw Second Chance Scholarship recipients Ralph Cheriza, from left, and Melanie Kafka with Juanita and Tim McGraw.

Yet she sounded a hopeful note for the future, despite sometimes dismal headlines.

“Our country has a tremendous amount of financial resources and leadership resources, and we can do it,” she said.

Pryor’s address was part of the fourth annual MacArthur School of Leadership Speaker Series. The evening began with the presentation of the Jerms McGraw Second Chance Scholarship to two adult students in the MacArthur School of Leadership — international student Ralph Cheriza and U.S. Navy veteran Melanie Kafka.

The scholarship was created in memory of U.S. Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Jeremiah McGraw. Known by his nickname “Jerms,” Lt. McGraw was a student in the MacArthur School of Leadership while serving as a Marine reservist, part of the 4th ANGLICO unit in West Palm Beach.

Lt. McGraw died at age 22 on Sept. 10, 2009, while serving his country. Prior to his death, Lt. McGraw earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from PBA.

Lt. McGraw’s parents, Tim and Juanita McGraw, were on hand for the award presentation. “This entire effort is about continuing to use Jeremy’s life and death …. to share the gospel of Christ,” Tim McGraw said.