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Moral and ethical standards and effective leadership--GRE issue

Superkid 4 / 9  
Aug 24, 2009   #1
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"To be an effective leader, a public official must maintain the highest ethical and moral standards."

How to be an effective leader? This is a lasting question for many years. I contend that relatively high moral and ethical standards on community level are necessary. However, on personal level, it is less important.

Community morality and ethic is of great importance for political leaders. Since what political leaders concern is the country and the people, they often think from a view of community. If a president has weak morality for community, he would be possibly aloof to the people. As a result, he would not be supported by the people. In contrast, only if political leaders have high moral and ethical standards for the community, he would be more concerned about the people and the problems and issues which affect them, thereby solving them and create a better society for the people. We would not regard such a leader as an ineffective one.

In the business realm, high moral and ethical standards from a view of community are crucial for business leaders as well. Some may argue that the ultimate goal for business is to make profit maximum, which needs not to pay much attention to morality. However, empirical experience in these years informs us; only creating great profit is far from the business success. As media is becoming more and more influential in contemporary society, their comments on business leaders are able to implement a significant influence on them. However, what medias keep an eye on is not the economic achievements, but the social responsibility--in other words, community morality. Accordingly, business leaders today have to care more about the issue related to morality. They build funds to help poor children and donate money to help the people suffering natural disasters. Such activities help them build a healthy image with high standards of morality and ethic. As a result, their businesses receive the praise from society and achieve business success.

Nonetheless, personal morality is a bit less substantial for both political leaders and business leaders, according to the experience. Consider Bill Clinton, former president of the United States. The news of his sex scandal is almost accessible for every citizen of the US. However, few people would deny his effective leadership. During his political period, American economy had seen a great roar and the unemployment rate was always at a low level. According to a Gallup Poll in 2005, Bill Clinton took the second place of the list of the best presidents in American history. Therefore, personal morality is less important for political leaders.

Turn attention to business leaders, personal morality might be more unimportant for them. Few would focus on their personal life. In addition, at most times, their personal life is a secret for its stuffs and community. Also, I would be hard-pressed to find a business leader's failure that due to personal morality. In a consequence, it is not the focus.

What we need to realize is that commanding leaders to have a highest moral and ethical standards is unnecessary. First, the "highest" is hard be achieved. Each individual, including leaders, is common people and common people would make mistakes. Second, what quality leaders should have is a comprehensive one consisting of the ability of communication, a wide range of knowledge and so on. If they put too much heart on the morality, other qualities would weaken. As a result, they cannot be effective leaders in the end.

In a nut shell, leaders should have a relatively high community morality in the first place and other necessities contribute to effective leaders should not be ignored.
EF_Simone 2 / 1,986  
Aug 25, 2009   #2
This is a lasting question for many years.


I contend that relatively high moral and ethical standards on community level are necessary. However, on personal level, it is less important.

Community members have to have high moral and ethical standards but individual leaders do not? That can't be what you mean. This needs to be rephrased to say whatever it is you do mean.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Aug 25, 2009   #3
Why do you mention business leaders? The prompt specifically asks you to discuss public officials.

I think you mean to say that leaders need to hold themselves to strict ethical and moral standards when acting in a professional capacity, but that they need not do so in their personal lives in order to be effective as leaders. If you want to argue this, you need to consider how scandals in a politician's personal life can undercut public confidence in him. You might also ask if morality is something that one can have in one arena and not another, or if morality is something one either practices or does not. Also, you might look at whether the moral and ethical standards have to be those accepted by "the public" or if they can be any set of standards, so long as they are internally consistent. For instance, it seems likely that Bill Clinton might not have viewed his dalliances as immoral by his own personal moral code. Indeed, it is quite likely that the Clinton's marriage, like everything else about them, is a political arrangement that has little to do with romantic attachment or anything that might compel sexual fidelity. Also, if you mention Bill Clinton, you will have to show that he was effective as a leader because he held himself to high moral standards in public office, if not in his private life. This could get tricky, given the ease with which he betrayed his principles for political expediency, as in his acceptance of the "don't ask, don't tell" military policy, and the accusations surrounding travelgate, whitewater, etc.

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