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Thanksgiving for a Trustworthy Leader Amid a Flurry of Ethics Lapses

Thu, November 22, 2012 9:17 AM | Deleted user
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Senator Rudman in 1990
George Tames/
The New York Times
      Warren Rudman died this week at the age of 82. His obituary appeared in the Wednesday issue of the New York Times which also featured stories of insider trading (SAC Capital), manslaughter charges due to an explosion and environmental disaster (BP), mortgage fraud charges and fines (JP Morgan and Credit Suisse), conviction of a so-called rogue trader (UBS), charges of failure to disclose safety information (St. Jude Medical), bribery charges in a hacking scandal (News Corp executives) and two generals implicated in sex scandals (Petraeus and Allen). Rudman’s example offers hope amidst the crumbling foundation of trust. We would have more trust if we had more leaders like Warren Rudman. His behavior manifested some important things that made him trustworthy: he acted based on a set of clear values; he manifested integrity by living according to his word; he took up the role of benevolent steward, and he was an honest and transparent communicator.

As a value-based leader, Rudman stood for: doing the people’s work through the arts of dialogue and compromise, avoiding the corruption of money in politics, and managing our finances so as to not bankrupt of children. He acted according to these values even when it made him enemies and was inconvenient.

Rudman was a man of integrity who left the Senate after two terms because he felt that the federal government was not functioning and as he said in his 1996 memoir, he doubted “the glory of being a senator meant much if we were bankrupting America.” He could not stomach the idea of living the prestigious and cozy life of a senator if he was not making a difference. Leaving was the high integrity choice for Rudman because he internalized his role of caring for and being a steward of the interests of citizens. He was out for their interests not his own and he formed the Concord Coalition to try to make a difference from outside the dysfunctional system.

Finally, he was described as the “blunt senator” who would tell it like it is and cut through the spin machine with clear common sense language. As a Republican he sided with Democrats in the Iran Contra hearings telling Oliver North who had deliberately violated a law passed by Congress that “the American people deserve the right to be wrong.” When senator Alan Cranston tried to explain his unethical behavior in the Keating 5 scandal by saying he was only doing what everyone was doing, Rudman took to the floor of the senate to say that Cranston’s comment was “unrepentant” and “arrogant” and that “not everyone does it.” You could always count on Rudman to be a breath of fresh air to halt the Washington spin cycle.

It was evident that Rudman worked very hard to earn the trust of those who elected him. There is hope that we can restore trust in government if we elect more people like Warren Rudman. He will be missed.

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