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Lee Rasch: COVID-19 and the principles of ethical leadership

Lee Rasch: COVID-19 and the principles of ethical leadership

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The COVID-19 pandemic has become a major focus in the lives of Americans.

The event cancellations, school closings and guidelines on healthy practices are causing all of us to reassess our day-to-day living.

Furthermore, there is considerable uncertainty about the duration and the outcomes.

Unfortunately, at a time when we should be maintaining our focus on the health and well-being of Americans, the pandemic may bring to the surface some of the problems associated with a climate of extreme partisanship.

We believe there are four key principles for ethical leadership among elected officials. Let’s look at these principles in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Ethical leaders are truthful. Are elected leaders disclosing accurate information? Are they downplaying or exaggerating the circumstances?
  • Ethical leaders are transparent with public information. Transparency is a challenge in times of crisis. Leaders need to balance the method and message of disclosure to ensure the public is informed. Conditions tend to evolve quickly during a time of crisis and it is a major disservice to downplay or exaggerate serious circumstances. Are our elected leaders taking a straight-forward approach in their disclosure of information?
  • Ethical leaders are unifiers. Perhaps the most critical element of leadership is the importance of unifying citizens during a time of crisis. Blaming or criticizing during the time of crisis only hurts everyone. Are our elected leaders sincerely trying to unify our efforts to address a common cause?
  • Ethical leaders work to represent the interests of their entire constituency. Simply put, in a time of crisis, we should not be positioning for “winners and losers.” Are our elected leaders focused on the well-being of all our country, our state and our community?

These are open-ended questions, intended to promote a fresh view on priorities when voting in future elections.

As citizens, you should make your best determination of the actions displayed our elected leaders.

Lee Rasch is executive director of LeaderEthics-Wisconsin.


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