True Leaders Know How to Coexist with Society
The head of the Social Contribution Team of SK Broadband shared stories of “true leaders in the new era.”
The second guest lecture hosted by KUSSO.
The second guest lecture hosted by the Korea University Social Service Organization (KUSSO) was held at Korea University’s International Studies Hall on November 2nd at 4 p.m., with the title, “True Leaders of Today: Leaders Who Value Coexistence.” The guest lecturer was Do-young Kim, the head of the Social Contribution Team of SK Broadband. He delivered a passionate lecture on why volunteer work matters and what it means to be a leader who knows how to coexist with society.
Kim started his lecture by pointing out the latest social issues and some problems of modern society and talked about the importance of leaders who value coexistence with society. “Actually, you’re not the one who makes decisions. You get exposed to thousands of ads every day, and their messages get wired in your brain and manipulate your decision-making process. Your decisions are made based on the thousands of ads you see each day. One of the most dangerous misconceptions of our time created by these ads is that you can buy happiness with money. Such a belief destroys your morality and humanity unwittingly. Now is the time for future leaders like you to learn more about and build social enterprises,” he said.
“Leaders should know how to identify trends,” said Kim, emphasizing the fact that the present is “the era of convergence.” “In the past, governments were in charge of the public sector, businesses or the private sector, and NGOs as an alternative sector. But the trend has been changing slowly but consistently. Now, the boundaries are blurry, and people expect convergence among these sectors. But it’s easier said than done.” And he proposed a new wave of “social economy” based on efficient competition, cooperation, and solidarity.
Kim said it has been a long time since the importance of social contribution was widely accepted, which means that social contribution as a business strategy is not new to businesses and consumers. But, Kim said, businesses’ spending on social contribution has been decreasing since its peak in 2012. Consumers are aware of how important corporate social responsibility is but are not well aware of the social contribution activities being carried out by businesses. In fact, the Corporate Favorite Index (CFI) has been decreasing since the second half of 2011. When asked what makes businesses less favorable, many people pointed out businesses’ lack of ethics and lack of social contribution. Kim said, “this is why it’s important for businesses to strategically decide what social contribution activities to carry out.”
“Businesses and governments used to provide funds and resources to NGOs to solve social problems. But now, businesses and governments should actively engage as problem solvers of social issues together with NGOs and create a new model of corporate social responsibility activities,” Kim said, adding that those who fully understand the “new model” will play an important role in the future.
Kim cited some cases of social contribution leaders. “The origin of the phrase ‘noblesse oblige’ originated with the heroic actions that the six burghers of Calais performed, and it means that prestige comes with social responsibilities to accept on behalf of society. Although Britain has a volunteer military system, the British royal family members are obliged to serve in the military. Similarly, many successful business leaders in the U.S. such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Mark Zuckerberg are famous for contributing large donations. They are good examples of noblesse oblige.” However, according to Kim, the leaders of the Korean society have been negligent in exercising noblesse oblige, mainly because giving back to the society and sharing wealth with the local community are not the most important values being taught at home in Korea. This is one of the reasons why our society is overflowing with mammonism or excessive greed, said Kim
Historically, there were people with the virtue of noblesse oblige in Korea, such as the Choi Clan in Gyeongju, Hoe-young Lee, a famous Korean independence activist during the colonial rule of Japan, and Dr. Il-han New, but this tradition of Korean noblesse oblige had failed to find its place in the modern society.
“Why does noblesse oblige matter? This is because of economic feasibility,” said Kim. “In economics, human beings are regarded as ‘rational’ beings. Sharing wealth with others is an economic loss and thus is an irrational behavior. Then, why do people donate their money to charity?” Kim explained that donation is a rational behavior because it brings about a greater benefit to the donors, citing the examples of bats that share blood and soldier ants.
Kim added that the benefits of philanthropy can also be explained biologically. When humans engage in activities related to reproduction, such as childbearing, lactation, and child rearing, the human body secretes oxytocin, often referred to as the “love hormone." But the same amount of oxytocin is also secreted when individuals share trust and care one another. Kim explained that “Sharing is not a loss, but something ingrained in human DNA, something being suppressed by the market economy and greed.”
Kim concluded his lecture by reiterating the importance of the “leadership of coexistence.” “It’s an inherent human instinct to share resources with others. Sharing is an important source of happiness. Future leaders should keep in mind that where there is no benefit to others, there’s no benefit to yourself. And leaders who fully understand how coexistence works will lead our society in the future.”
At the end of his lecture, Kim introduced a Chinese proverb that says, “The fragrance of flowers spreads over for 10 ri (approx. 4 km), the fragrance of alcohol for 100 ri, the fragrance of words for 1,000 ri, and the fragrance of a person for 10,000 ri (花香十里, 酒香百里, 言香千里, 人香萬里). Always remember this proverb.” And the audience responded with applause and cheers.
The lecture was followed by a Q&A session. Students asked questions about real cases of social contribution activities and how to tap into the talent in universities, and Kim answered their questions with enthusiasm. After the Q&A session, Kim and some of the students took a group photo on the stage.