Anti-Corruption and Leadership


Participation by Brian Pinkowski in the 7th Pan African Summit on Modernization of the Public Sector.
Participation by Brian Pinkowski in the 7th Pan African Summit on Modernization of the Public Sector.

We have all heard it – the fish rots from the head down.  And true enough the remedy for corruption requires attention on building a leadership class that provides role models for integrity and character.

But it’s important to know that we aren’t starting at “zero” with this effort.  There are many admirable leaders working to fight corruption and help create the maximum benefits for the productive lives and welfare of their communities.

I have had the privilege of working with many passionate and committed leaders of corruption fighting institutions in many countries.  What they all have in common goes beyond their pride in their position, and saying the right words.

Mr. Tom Fox recently wrote a piece about leadership in fighting corruption, and it caused me to recall the best of the traits I have seen.

These are some of the traits I have seen:

Role Models: They model the behavior they expect.  Their staff sees their behavior and duplicates it. Their behavior sets a standard for integrity.

Commitment to Learning:  The successful leaders in anti-corruption are committed to a path of ongoing learning about organizational development.  They understand that the university degree they received was not the most important qualification for their jobs.  Like any other profession, that degree provided merely entry into a field full of impressive thinkers and researchers that contribute to effort to build a society with a future.

Commitment to People:  The most impressive leaders in Anti-Corruption I have met have been supporting of their people.  They understood that much of corruption comes from confused thinking, and that confused thinking takes place with all of us.

I freely acknowledge that this short list touches on only a few of the leadership characteristics examined by Barry and Kouzes and others, but in the field of corruption fighters, these few characteristics are worth noting.

With this in mind, I’d like to commend one of those truly admirable leaders in the field of anti-corruption, Mr. Daniel Elissama, of the Board of Commissioners of the South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission.

Brian J. Pinkowski

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