Greg Mortenson affair: Good leaders must prove it every day

Leaders like Greg Mortenson are just people like ourselves, striving to do good. We all need to be vigilant to stay true to our good purpose.

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The '60 minutes' CBS news program reported in April that some of the schools supposedly built by Greg Mortenson – a globally known spokesperson for girls' education and author of the bestselling 'Three Cups of Tea' – do not exist or were constructed by other organizations.

[Editor's note: Greg Mortenson, philanthropist and author of the best-selling book "Three Cups of Tea," has been accused of fabricating key portions of his book and of possibly mismanaging his foundation, the Central Asia Institute. He is being sued for fraud in a class-action case accusing him of making up much of his story, such as being kidnapped in a Pakistani village, an incident that he says prompted him to start his charitable work of building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Below, guest blogger Pamela Hawley gives her response to the news about Mr. Mortenson.]

A personal model for us, in many areas of life, is so very much needed.

I hope we should expect the best and focus on the good Greg Mortensen, and others, have achieved. We need leaders who show us who we can be, and who we can aspire to be, even on a smaller scale. Equally important, we need to track results of the organization, clearly understanding its impact, and also improving it.

Every day it's a lesson to us all. We can have a good motive and good ethics in starting out with our desire to serve. That's benevolent and laudable. Then, we have to challenge ourselves every day to repeat that positive desire. It's authenticity combined with ethics.

Each moment is a new moment to prove.

I remember being so inspired by reading Mahatma Gandhi's autobiography on his quest for a voice for India and its independence. It's inspiring and heartbreaking. He did so much good for the world, mobilizing and inspiring millions, both in his campaign, but also in his simple, austere life. He was a superb model in so many ways. And sadly, he also expresses regret: for treating his wife unequally and at times with extreme unkindness and even ostracism. It's sad but honest to read.

We need to realize that leaders are people just as ourselves. They are striving to do good. We all need, at all points, to be self-watchful in remaining vigilant in our good purpose.

• Pamela Hawley is the founder and CEO of UniversalGiving. She is a social entrepreneur who has founded two successful ventures and is a global leader in philanthropy, entrepreneurship and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). She is a Jefferson Award winner, a recent finalist for Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award, an Expert Blogger on CSR for Fast Company, and has been invited to the White House for their Consortium on Next Generation Leadership and Social Innovation.

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