Column: Myron On Leadership, Ethics & More

June 9, 2024 | 1 Comment

[Opinion column written by Martha Harris Myron]

Is ethical leadership an illusion?

The recent Bermuda PATI release of information regarding the finance operations of a non-performing Bermuda government guarantee-backed commission is disturbing.

The responsibility of government leadership is to report to the truth in all financial matters to the very community that funds all government operations.

It is the most important facet of community life that encompasses ethics and current moral philosophy by defining right and wrong, good and evil, and responsibility for one’s actions. Aristotle.

After all, if you don’t trust your government leaders, who can you trust?

Individually, we develop a personal code of ethical values during our lives. This moral code may be derived from family values, culturally driven acceptable behavior within a community, and self-imposed standards of personal conduct.

Societies impose behavioral ethics on its citizens, explicitly, and more often, less than subtly implicit as we see displayed loudly about some flagrant impropriety so often now in social media, and digital print.

The moral code of ethics includes standards of trust, truth and transparency [the three Ts of leadership].

Democratic societies formulated codes of professional ethics by instituting mandates of high standards in government, politics, and commerce to protect public citizens.

  • Qualified finance professionals must follow an ethics code for their specific credentials: engineers, insurance, actuaries, investment managers, accountants, planning, etc.
  • The legal profession, those who actually enforce laws, have the Attorney’s Code of Ethics;
  • Doctors of Medicine all have ethics code requirements with the Hippocratic Oath [again Greek philosophers’ influence];
  • Chief Executive Officers of publicly traded US corporations are required to adhere the Sarbanes Oxley [SOX] Act of 2002 [similar acts were adopted in other jurisdictions].
  • In the United States, federal employees, Representatives, Senators, judges, political appointees, the President and Vice President of the United States take an oath of allegiance to the US constitution.
  • The United Kingdom and colonies have Principles and Codes of Conduct for Members of Parliament and civil servants.
  • Bermuda also instituted legislation for ministers, public officers, and the varied professional service providers in commerce.

Illuminating ethical standards apply equally to professionals in commerce, and even more so to politicians – since it is the community’s money and democratic freedom that politicians are sworn to protect.

  • Act with integrity, competence, diligence, respect, and in an ethical manner with the public and clients.
  • Use reasonable care and exercise independent professional judgment in all matters.
  • Full transparency in the advisory and representation process
  • The clients’ or consumers’ interests and trust must take precedent.
  • Comply with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations of any government, regulatory organization, licensing agency, or professional association.
  • No solicitations, acceptance of gifts, benefits, compensation.
  • No dishonesty, fraud, or deceit that compromises their own or another’s independence and objectivity.

Breaking the Commerce Ethics Code. Unethical, inappropriate conduct by a qualified professional exposes the perpetrator to public peer censure [and in the media], loss of license, prohibition from future practice, while in egregious cases, criminal prosecution, felony charges and imprisonment follow.

The public and private disgrace that follows becomes a very long road to redemption.

The Political Code of Ethics

Running a country may be on a grander scale but no different from that of a corporate entity, or a family when it comes to trust and ethics.

A country’s citizens [and foreign investors] are the shareholders wanting to maintain a high market value on their country’s stock. They understand that reputation for excellence means democracy in action: the opportunity for an enhanced lifestyle, greater business employment opportunities and access to amenities – the perceived bonuses in life.

Politicians are implicitly charged to conduct themselves with due professional care, avoiding even the appearance of impropriety, standards that are even higher than professionals because of their responsibility [and their financial accountability] to their constituents.

They, and the country, too, can pay a severe price. One only has to look at the list of examples in any search engine of just about any country where federal, state and local politicians convicted of crimes are publicly castigated – if they are found out!

The result is a heightened lack of distrust in authority figures and the reaction by the public is punishment, brutally, ruthlessly against the individual, the company [or country] reputation through the court of public opinion. See Global Finance Centre35 Country Evaluation.

Erosion of ethics by opportunistic corruption can be described in a depressingly endless daily litany of big words, some so difficult to pronounce, you cannot even figure out how to spell them, but you can research them if you feel for it!

  • Malfeasance
  • Egregious acts
  • Impropriety
  • Alternative facts
  • Digression
  • Disinformation
  • Subversion
  • Suppression of facts
  • Disparagement of competitors
  • Embezzlement
  • Corruption
  • Perjury
  • Conspiracy
  • Obfuscations
  • Extortion
  • Obstruction of justice
  • Racketeering
  • Ethics violations

Simply put, these descriptions can apply to any politicians, governments, heads of businesses, organizations both profit and non-profit, religious members, and more, any organizational people of power who have committed to serve but instead their promises of protecting the community, businesses, and individuals that gave them their trust, and hard-earned money, are meaningless.

The only commitments these types of individuals have made – is to enriching themselves.

In all times: normalcy, distress, sorrow, financial and natural catastrophes, communities need real leaders.

Real leadership, real commitment to accept responsibility, real integrity, real ethics, real compassion, real truths in a leader are vaunted attributes of mythical proportions.

These leaders still exist.

Finding them, keeping them at the top of the influence tower and decision-making power is our individual and community responsibility.

We need them now more than ever.

- Martha Harris Myron

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  1. Toodle-oo says:

    Well , here’s one person who this government isn’t fooling !

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