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Reclaiming Ethics and Character for Public Service Premium Content

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There is much discussion in the public domain about the current crises of leadership, or perhaps more specifically, a crisis of ethical leadership. This public sentiment is founded in legitimate concern. The failings of corporate, nonprofit, and governmental leaders over the last two decades have been pervasive and damaging, breeding an air of cynicism that has permeated our society. Moralistic pluralism—the widespread belief that an endless spectrum of personal ethics are both preeminent and sufficient—has failed. While institutional greed and moral ineptitude in the private sector deserve to be under continued scrutiny, the road to escape this societal morass must be paved by the men and women of the public sector. By the sheer virtue of their title “public servants,” the professionals comprising the federal government have a rich heritage of virtuous service, and it’s time to reclaim that sense of service and ethical foundation. Combining “virtue” and “federal government” in the same sentence may give the cynical reader cause to smile, but I am confident there is a thread of honorable DNA that reaches from our founding fathers, through our current public figures, to the most junior civil servant in government.



  • Navy Capt. Chuck Hollingsworth is chief of staff for Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA), and former commanding officer of the Navy Center for Personal and Professional Development. A P-3 pilot, his 29-year career includes the leadership of numerous organizations and multiple operational deployments.


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