School Business Affairs February 2021

asbointl.org SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | FEBRUARY 2021 7 Now more than ever, we need leaders of unquestionable integrity. Leadership Integrity and Ethics By David J. Lewis executive director’s message O ne of my favorite quotes from Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower goes, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” Given the turbulent times we are currently facing, I believe it is especially relevant to step back and focus on the fundamental attributes of true leadership and to take these oppor- tunities to reflect on how well we, and the people we entrust with power, are living up to these ideals. Eisenhower’s quote is especially prescient, I think, because it can be easy to confuse per- ceived success, represented by legions of fol- lowers contributing vast amounts of money but fundamentally lacking in integrity, with actual success that is based on honesty, service to oth- ers, and a respect for those we seek to lead. One of the critical components of leadership integrity is leading by example, ensuring we are setting the best possible example for those around us. As school business managers, we are faced with decisions that can have far-reaching implications for our staff, students, and com- munities and as such we have a responsibility to act according to the highest ethical stan- dards of school business management as we allocate educational resources to support stu- dent learning. It is also incumbent upon us to tell the truth regarding those resources so our communities can make informed and reasoned decisions on their best use. One of the critical components of leadership integrity is leading by example, ensuring we are setting the best possible example for those around us. There is probably nothing more destructive to work environments than having a leader who has one set of standards for those around him or her but holds a completely dif- ferent set of standards when it comes to their own behavior. As General Colin Powell so aptly states, “Soldiers watch what their leaders do. You can give them classes and lecture them forever, but it is your personal example they will follow.” Honesty and Communication Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to have had leaders who set great examples of working hard, operated in an ethical fashion, and created conditions of open and honest communication so genuine feedback and learn- ing could take place. Great leaders also understand that we all face ethical dilemmas for which we are not prepared. It is then that honest communication becomes so vital in allowing those around us to question themselves and seek out guidance, free from fears of retribution, judgment, or negative repercussions. Providing opportuni- ties for ongoing ethics education at all levels of the organization is another key factor in dem- onstrating that the standards leaders set apply to everyone, including themselves. In a world where every day seems to bring us new challenges of social unrest and societal reckoning, political upheaval and violence, health and security concerns like we’ve never experienced, and economic uncertainty that is going to bring about devastating budgetary shortfalls with significant financial and opera- tional challenges, it could be tempting to take some easy shortcuts or to believe that now is not the time to be worried about how we get to success, just that we get there. I would argue the contrary, however. Now more than ever, success without integrity is no real success at all.

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