Ethical Leadership in Diverse Environments 1
The recent Penn State scandal, what transpires from it, and how it was handled by many or not has been fascinating to me.It highlighted the diversity of how different people see or practice ethics. Supporting “Coach Patterno” students had pleasure turning over cars and starting fires while others were outraged having vigils for the victims.
Some knew or witnessed little children allegedly being molested, hurt and raped at Penn State; and just turned the other way. How do we as human beings define ethics and priorities? Do we sacrifice ethics for the sake of priorities, even if misguided? Was winning and having a football team at Penn State more important than protecting children?
Our country is diverse, and this is the beauty of it. Diversity is supposed to bring us all together to a greater good, to better solutions, to better outcomes. I still want to believe in that, despite witnessing leaders like Coach Patterno, that has been a role model for over 40 years, knowing about the children being harmed; and either didn’t care or just felt that it was more important to win and maintain the status quo.
Ethics are ethics and exist in any culture; they are the standards of right and wrong that inﬂuence behavior. What is considered unethical in some cultures is considered ethical in others. But harming the people we are supposed to protect is unethical in any culture and no matter how diverse our backgrounds are.
Integrity is an important trait of effective leaders in any culture, and ethics and trust are part of integrity.
Recently we have seen many leaders from diverse backgrounds lose their way. A French politician, inspiring President, and former head of International Monetary fund allegedly accused of rape; a Republican US Senator (Nevada) paying off people to cover an extra-marital affair; a previous CEO for Hewlett-Packard falsifying expense reports covering a relationship with a contractor; dictators in the Middle East like Mubarak and Gadhafi that were aspiring great leaders at the beginning.