What makes 'ethical leadership' effective?

In the quest to stem internal misconduct, managers should see whistleblowers as their allies, not their enemies, shares Peter Liria, director of UNDP’s Ethics Office, in this video interview.

Corruption and bribery plague countries with weak institutions and tenuous rule of law, but they are also unfortunate facts of life inside many of the world’s large, decentralized development agencies.

It might be tempting to ignore internal misconduct and hope it goes away, but doing so risks turning one “broken window” into 10, Peter Liria, director of the Ethics Office at the U.N. Development Program, told Devex in this video interview.

Whistleblowers play a critical role in calling attention to internal misconduct, bribery and other offenses that — if left unchecked — can strip an organization’s credibility and turn leadership into crisis management. How can managers foster an environment of open accountability, where employees feel encouraged to speak out against the problems they witness?

“It’s actually good news to get bad news early,” Liria told Devex in this exclusive interview, in which he shared some practical advice for development leaders and managers to help them create and sustain the right kind of dialogue about the wrong kinds of professional conduct.

What do you think makes for an effective organizational approach to internal misconduct? Are development organizations better, worse or just the same as those in other sectors when it comes to ethics — and how to uphold them? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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About the author

  • Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.

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