Ethical Leadership - The experience of JCU's 3rd IBD cohort


1. Being seen on TV, do you feel you have a direct impact on the ethical decision-making of your audience? In other words, do you feel that the audience dictates what is seen on TV, regardless of ethical considerations?
 I have a responsibility to be honest with the audience. Unfortunately, many people think because someone is on TV and presenting a viewpoint, that person is speaking truth, and that is not always the case. Just because someone states something on TV does not mean it is fact. Citizens need to do a much better job of checking sources, especially when it comes to invited guests on television shows. 

2. Has the impact (power) ever caused you to face difficult ethical decisions?
Ethical decisions, yes. Difficult ethical decisions, no. I work for a non-profit public policy organization. We have done work on many controversial issues. It has been brought to our attention a few times that if we would just keep quiet about certain issues or turn and look the other way, additional funding would just happen to appear in our mailbox. For some people, that may be a difficult decision. It shouldn’t be. You should not compromise your core beliefs based upon the fact your bank account could get grow.

3. Have you ever seen this impact (power) effect the ethical decisions of others in your industry?
In the world I work, people are paid for their opinions. For some, opinions change based upon who is writing the checks. Some years, you will see person X against an issue, and the following year that same person will be for an issue because someone has decided to write them a larger check or offer them a position of power. Some may not consider it unethical, but it is double-minded and unstable. And it makes for a very difficult working environment, especially when it pertains to civil government.

 Along that same line, I have also seen people realize the error of their ways and reverse their opinion on certain issues because they realize their opinion was decided for all the wrong reasons. They had formed it solely on their own personal gain, not based upon their core convictions. 

4. You were interviewed on Fox Business regarding the casinos being built in Ohio. How does ethical decision-making affect that specific topic?
In that discussion, I attempted to rely on facts and figures from around the country. I spoke specifically about the exact language of the Constitutional Amendment which Ohio passed. The other side did not speak in such concrete terms. They speak about what “could” happen. Everything is portrayed as a fairytale. That campaign was marketed by the gambling industry strictly on the emotions of the public. Promises were made during the campaign that are not in the actual language of the amendment, and now we are seeing that those promises may not be delivered upon. That does not surprise me, but it does surprise many Ohioans that voted YES for the amendment. We attempted to expose those promises during the campaign, but it was difficult considering the other side was spending over $40 million to change the Constitution and frame the debate.  

5. As your audience, what advice do you have for my class regarding ethical decision-making?
Stay focused on the truth. Be honest. Let your “yes” mean “yes” and “no” mean “no.”

Nothing seems to be hidden or off-limits anymore. Look at the way political campaigns are ran. They focus on character flaws of people from events that may have taken place years ago. From lying on your resume to having a little too much fun at a college party or wedding, that information is out there and others WILL find out about it. You must be careful with your actions.  

I am sure I made more mistakes as a young person than every person in this class. You are going to make mistakes. Learn from those mistakes. And let it be a mistake of choosing the wrong job or picking the wrong vacation spot, don’t let it be the mistake of selling your soul to the highest bidder.