Where is the Honesty in Modern Leadership?

Watching and listening to the various world leaders, no less my own, if “Boris” can be referred to as that, how important is it to work and lead your nation, your organisation, your department and most of all yourself with honesty and integrity?

It was several days ago that “Boris” was photographed briefing his cabinet on the upcoming new and altered Covid rules which are to be rolled out to the nation.  There they all were sitting closely together around a table supposedly listening intently to what was being said.  Not a mask in sight.  Does that matter when the rules have been relaxed and masks are no longer compulsory?  Actually not, except for the fact that Boris was saying that masks in confined spaces, such as public transport, shops and offices are to be worn.  Is this a case of “Do as I say and not as I do”?

This subtlety was not missed by our over eager press, and the health minister was later interviewed on the BBC about the message the photograph and particular incident was imparting to the general public, who incidentally, pay government representatives their wages, one would reasonably assume in return for doing their jobs.  In answer to the question from the interviewer, our health minister explained it as “The prime minister did say masks are to be worn if you are in confined spaces with strangers!”  Did we all miss something? Has the Corona virus suddenly found the ability to know who are strangers and who are not?

Where this is going, I have no idea.  However irrelevant of whether you like the current party’s politics or not, surely speaking the truth and working through honesty and integrity is vital to developing trust in those who follow you, not only in your leadership, but also in your goals, policies and direction?  That trust leads to a commitment to follow and implement recommended actions through a clear understanding of the reasoning behind what is being asked.  When there is no trust, it leads to the leadership style becoming more authoritarian and dictatorial in nature.  Perhaps this is the reason why governments have begun to micro-manage people through policies and processes around how to live our lives?

 

In the example shown by “Boris”, leadership has drifted a long way from being honest with the general public.  In other words the people he leads. It seems that the leadership characteristic of being trustworthy is unimportant.  The fact that our prime minister is not referred to as Prime minister, Boris Johnson, or in the very least Mr Johnson, but simply “Boris” is reflective of the respect he has on the one hand earned and on the other is given by all he leads, meets and has dealings with. Even President Biden when talking about the new nuclear submarine deal referred to him as “Boris” and the Prime Minister of Australia as Prime Minister Morrison and not “Scott”.

In an article featured in the IHCAN magazine (Integrated Healthcare and Applied Nutrition, September 2021) written by Ronald Bailey, the Science Correspondent for Reason and the author of several books, I was appalled to read the headlines “Zombie trials” and outright fraud: Why medical research is mostly fake news.  It further read “In a blistering editorial, former editor of the medical journal the BMJ, Dr Richard Smith has asked whether it’s time to assume that health research is fraudulent until proven otherwise.”  Smith continues, “We have now reached a point where those doing systematic reviews must start by assuming that a study is fraudulent until they can have some evidence to the contrary.” 

In his BMJ editorial work, Smith cites the work of Barbara K. Redman, author of Research Misconduct Policy in Biomedicine: “Beyond the Bad-Apple Approach.” Redman insists that the problem is not a problem of bad apples, but bad barrels, if not rotten forests or orchards.”  Redman points out that research misconduct is a systems problem as the system provides incentives to publish fraudulent research and does not have adequate regulatory processes.  She further explains that the research publication system is built on trust and peer review and is not designed to detect fraud. In other words, it is a system built on trust to be professional, and further science through this attitude and approach.  Apparently, journals, publishers, funders and research institutions have little incentive to check for fraud and a big disincentive against damaging their reputations by retracting studies.  This last point is staggering.  Surely, earning a reputation of being a fraudster and having your reputation desecrated is even worse?

 

One of the greatest leaders of all time, Nelson Mandela once said “A bright future beckons. The onus is on us through hard work, honesty and integrity to reach for the stars.”

 

Science is fundamental and affects so many aspects of our lives, starting with the obvious Corona Sars – Cov2 virus. If we can no longer believe our scientists as well as our world leaders, where does that lead us and where does that leave us?

 

References

Bailey, Ronald. (2021). Zombie Trials and outright fraud: why medical research is mostly fake news. IHCAN The practice and science of natural medicine, September, 42-42.

 

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