From Vegas to Colombia: Scandals Impacting Government Leadership

Scandal is nothing new to the White House. Many of us can recall several “mishaps” involving former presidents. This time, however, it’s the Secret Service. On April 11th, a dozen Secret Service agents and eleven military personnel were involved in an incident that involved partying at a local nightclub in Cartagena, Colombia, heavy drinking, and involvements with prostitutes while preparing for a visit by President Obama. Since that event, two supervisors who were involved in the scandal have been identified and removed from their positions. The case has been all over the news and has been causing quite a stir for the agency responsible for the well-being of the President of the United States.

Just as they did with the GSA scandal, lawmakers, citizens, government workers, and the media have been questioning the integrity, ethics, and accountability of the agency. So who is responsible? Who will ensure behavior like this will never happen again? President Obama has said that he has full trust in the Secret Service Director, Mark Sullivan, to continue the investigation and take the appropriate corrective actions needed. That’s all fine and dandy, but what about the trust that the American people, who are losing millions of their tax dollars due to these scandals, have lost for our government? Randy Conley, Trust Practice Leader at The Ken Blanchard Companies, says that leaders must purposely engage in four trust-building behaviors in order for individuals to maintain confidence with their leader. Those behaviors include:

  • Demonstrate competence
  • Act with integrity
  • Care about others
  • Maintain reliability

After reading many articles and watching several news stories about both scandals, I can’t say that those involved with the GSA and Secret Service events practiced these four behaviors. So what corrective actions can government leaders now take to ensure that debauchery such as this won’t continue at other agencies? After all, people do make mistakes. Even with the best of intentions, leaders make mistakes that impact the commitment, morale, and performance of the people who work for them. With investigations in both cases still underway, we’ll have to wait and see the effects that these scandals will have on the future leadership and behaviors of our government.

Want to learn three actionable steps leaders can take to self-diagnose, assess, and change unwanted behaviors? Take a break at 9:00am PST/12:00pm EST today to listen to best-selling author and consultant Chris Edmonds share insight on how leaders can avoid making some common mistakes.

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