The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

RLF Reflection: Ethical Leadership

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On January 14th, David Niedzwicki gave a presentation on ethical leadership. According to David, some challenges to ethical leadership include flaws in decision-making strategies, unconscious lapses in judgement, and cognitive barriers. He offers some solutions to this by holding others accountable, holding ethics, not rules as a gold standard, and by having leaders model ethical behavior. Lastly, David urged us that ethical leadership is more important now than ever before. With the growing climate crisis, the misinformation spread about the coronavirus and its vaccine, and the Black Lives Matter movement, there is a need for ethical leaders to make the future a better place for others.

In this current time of remote/virtual learning, I think a growing ethical dilemma that Dartmouth students face is cheating. Given that many students have Internet access during classes and exams, it is difficult to simulate a traditional testing environment. As a result, many classes now have open-note tests that allow students to use external resources for exams. However, some courses still have policies that prohibits students from using those external resources and try to enforce closed-note exams. However, for students, there is no practical way for professors to enforce these rules. As a result, a student may think that many of their peers will cheat on an exam and will then be more tempted to break their ethical values to cheat as well. Given that this situation is a very different environment than a typical classroom exam, these students may not have cheated on a test if it was proctored normally, but in this particular instance, they may actually cheat.

As RLF fellows it is critically important for us to restore ethical leadership in places and environments where ethical leadership is lacking. For some of us looking at careers in political, medical, and industrial spheres, we can instill ethical leadership by communicating effectively with our teams and have discussions among others during decision-making moments. By walking through a decision with peers, we can show our thinking on ethical decisions and share our strategies to others. This process will hopefully instill ethical decision-making skills to team members in a group, which can subsequently be internalized by others.


-Written by Neelufar Raja, Class of 2021 Rockefeller Leadership Fellow 

As Rockefeller Leadership Fellows, seniors gain a better understanding of the qualities and responsibilities expected of leaders. As Fellows take part in the workshops, discussions, and team-building exercises, they examine their skills, qualities, and attributes as leaders and analyze how these influence teamwork and achieving goals. 

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences