Analyzing the Decline of Political Values – Nu Leadership Series

“In the past a leader was a boss. Today’s leaders must be partners with their people… they no longer can lead solely based on positional power.”
Ken Blanchard

Who is accountable in Washington? As the Foley scandal spiraled out of control, government leaders took cover. Former Representative Mark Foley escaped congressional punishment by resigning in the middle of the scandal.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert proclaims that he did not do anything wrong; however, Hastert publicly stated he accepts full responsibility. Many in Congress worried about the political fallout. Internal polling had shown that House Republicans could suffer massive loses if Hastert doesn’t resign. The results were much worse.

On election day, voters led a massive revolt against the incumbents. This created one of the largest congressional shift since 1994. Exit polls showed that voters were more concerned about ethics than any other subject. Four Republicans resigned from the House this year due to ethical issues.

Currently, American politicians suffer credibility problems. An USA Today/Gallup Poll of 1,009 adults found that only 15 percent of the people gave U.S. senators high or very high marks for honesty and ethical standards. The U.S. representatives didn’t do any better at 14 percent.

As each party tries to either take advantage of a “hot button” issue or perform damage control, followers grow increasingly cynical about government leadership. Both party expects each congressperson to follow the party line. Sometimes this blind obedience leads to going against one’s principles.

Obviously, this is done with transactional relationships with peers. On the other hand, ethics guru Cuilla maintains that coercion is not true leadership. She argues that ethics is at the heart of good leadership. If one evaluates these statements, the question becomes, how can any good leader blindly follow any group or party?

What is the price of surrendering one’s core values? A true leader stands up for his principles even though it may be forced to go against his social network. Therefore, politicians need to foster more value-based leadership.


Ciulla, J.B. (1998). Ethics: The Heart of Leadership. Westport, CT: Praeger. (2006). Hastert sys he did nothing wrong in foley page scandal. Received on October 13, 2006, from,2933,217943,00.html.

Koch, W. (December 12, 2006). Poll: Washington scandals eating away public trust. USA Today.

Margasak, L. (October 8, 2006). One thing’s for sure in Foley investigation. Associated Press.

© 2006 by Daryl D. Green