PC Business Ethics Lecture

Tips from a legendary football coach and military greats were offered during this year’s Vance Lecture on Business Ethics at Presbyterian College.

Retired Brigadier General Rick Porter shared insights following 30 years in the military during the recent event in Edmunds Hall.

Porter shared famous quips from legendary PC football coach Cally Gault, including, “Ninety percent of football is half mental.” General Porter also shared serious lessons, like Gault’s one training rule. “We’re all standing there,” Porter said, “expecting to be told we can’t drink, we can’t do drugs, we have to attend a hundred percent of our classes, can’t miss classes, can’t smoke. You can’t wear mustaches, can’t wear beards, all those things.” But he said Coach Gault’s rule was one the players weren’t expecting.

Porter said, “Coach Gault told us, ‘I have but one training rule, and it’s this: Don’t do anything your mama wouldn’t want you to do.’” Porter said the rule was so genuine the football players remembered it every weekend and long after the season ended.

General Porter also shared wise words from military leaders. He spoke of learning the importance of clear communication from General Robert B. Abrams. “He always said, ‘Let me be perfectly clear,” Porter said. “He was the master communicator.”

Porter said that in any organization, you must have a clear vision and clear communication and that all too often leaders sometimes make the mistake of not being clear about their intentions. When they’re not clear, others are left to interpret what the leader wants.

He said General Daniel B. Allyn taught him that “leadership is about competence and character.” He added, “Focus on character, and competence will follow.”

Porter said from General Colin Powell he learned about building trust.

“If you build trust in an organization, if you build a team that you have trust going up, down, and laterally, that team will do anything for you,” Porter said. He recalled a time when a sergeant approached then Lieutenant Powell early in his career about being a good leader. “The sergeant said, ‘Lieutenant, you’ll know when you’re a good leader when people follow you…if only out of curiosity,’” Porter said. “What he was saying is, ‘They trust you.’”