Welcome to Ethical Foundations for Public Service!

Ethical Foundations for Public Service
Part 1 : Philosophy and Principles

Principles of Public Service (continued)

Principle #4: Democratic Leadership

Public servants honor and respect the principles and spirit of representative democracy and set a positive example of good citizenship by scrupulously observing the letter, and spirit of laws and rules. Ethical ground rules that establish democratic leadership include:

  • Obey all laws and rules.
  • Avoid artifices and schemes that undermine the spirit of the law.
  • Use leadership power only in a manner consistent with representative democracy.
  • Civil Disobedience: may exercise prerogative of conscientious objection, but must do so openly and be accountable for the consequences.

Please refer to your handbook if you would like to work through this exercise on paper.

Thinking it Through...What Would YOU Do?
  • Several employees, on their lunch hour are active in a political cause and are doing so in an approved area. You’re strongly opposed to their position and the fact that they are routinely engaged in this cause. These employees are following the appropriate guidelines. You feel that this may be perceived negatively on your office. As a manager, what are the implications and your responsibility as their supervisor?

  • A person in a leadership role is strongly advocating a highly questionable political position without consulting a representative group. This will have a significant impact on policy, budget and the organization. What do you do?

  • A manager decides to ignore addressing blatant performance issues of a union-represented employee. In fact, this manager has given a positive performance appraisal, ignoring all performance issues. The manager then eliminates the position, in effect laying the employee off. What are the implications?

  • Your manager has asked you to take steps to circumvent policy and procedure in order to get a particular action done. This deemed “crisis” is self imposed and you are caught in the middle. What are your options?