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To Be An Effective Leader, A Public Official Must Maintain The Highest Ethical And Moral Standards.


To be an effective leader, a public official must maintain the highest ethical and moral standards.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim. In developing and supporting your position, be sure to address the most compelling reasons and/or examples that could be used to challenge your position.

What the demand of demonstrating the highest ethical and moral standards means to a leader depends on the type of leadership that one person holds. To most of our public officials, though holding the highest ethical and moral standards certainly would be beneficial for them to build effective leadership, it is not a compulsory condition. However, if the effectiveness of leadership is totally built upon an image of its leader, those leaders must demonstrate highest moral standards in order not to lose powers.

Certainly, for many public officials, demonstrating the highest ethical and moral standard might help them to erect an effective leadership. At the same time, a notorious moral record certainly undermines their leaderships. The effective leadership is an ability to motivate many people to work together under one’s lead to achieve certain common goals. In order to build such leadership, a person needs to erect an attractive common objective, to convince most people that he or she who leads them is credible and to demonstrate its exemplary ability in analyzing situation, defining strategies as well as communicating with others. Holding a high moral standard is about making people believe the credibility of somebody as well as winning others’ trust. In contrast, demonstrating severe moral defections would undermine an official’s leadership since simply nobody want to work under the lead of a scum. Another advantage of holding high moral standards is about avoiding attacks from opponents. Sometimes, even if a public official is every competent in leading, his moral defections could be used by his opponents to sway the public opinion. Many leaders understand those points. That’s why all president candidates, in the United States, during their campaigns, tried best to depict themselves as somebody highly moral, caring as well as somehow defendants of traditional values. Another conspicuous example at the other end of the spectrum involves the ancient Italian president Berlusconi who was forced to leave his office even before a formal election. One of the reasons that lead to his failure was that Mr. Berlusconi left a devastating public image, tarnished by his moral defections, in the hearts of electorates. In many public occasions, he showed his disrespect of women which draw fierce attack from the public. His stories with some prostitutes in lean times did not help either. Certainly he paid his political life as a price for those moral defections.

However, for many public officials, having the highest ethical and moral standards does not amount to building their effective leaderships. As the definition of the leadership demonstrates, if a public official cannot propose a common objective which attracts people and demonstrates his ability to realize those objectives, he or she could not be an effective leader either. From the perspective of electorates, they also understand that they do not try to elect a saint but to find a competent people who could inspire them. They know that they need some body who bring changes and success rather then a moral purist. If they find an official could bring what they want, they would even be willing to support their leader in spite of his moral flaws. Consider the second mandate of President Bill Clinton. Although his image was tarnished by his immoral behavior in the Lewinsky scandal, President Clinton still succeeded to reinforce the support from the public. People were still willing to support President Clinton since they viewed him as a competent leader who succeeded to bring United States into economy prosperity.

Some critics might argue that all things discussed above only appeal to leaders in a rational-legal authority, a form of leadership in which the authority of a regime is tied to legal rationality. They don’t apply to charismatic leadership, a concept laid out by Max Weber. Critics might argue that since a charismatic leadership rest on devotion to the exceptional sanctity or exemplary character of an individual person, an official who cannot demonstrate highest moral standard certainly cannot establish an effective leadership. Those critics certainly make their point. In fact the importance of holding moral standards to a leader does differ according to what kind of leadership they have. For example, if the leader of Tibetan exile government Dalai Lama was proven to be a hypocrite or people could prove his involvement in the conflicts between different Tibetan religious sects, certainly he would immediately lose his leadership.

To sum up, on one hand, for a public official in a legal authority, adhering to certain moral standard would help him or her to build an effective leadership. However it is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition to be an effective leader. On the other hand, for a leader with charismatic leadership, he or she would have no choice but to stick to those values which help to attract supporters.

Submitted by: qcao

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