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Fresh Air from Young Leaders

There’s hope in the attitudes of newly minted leaders.

It’s easy to feel discouraged. By one measure, fraud increased 61 percent globally in 2021, and the documentaries about bad leadership and unethical behavior just keep coming. “I have seen firsthand how unethical and toxic leadership has ruined mission-driven teams and organizations,” Tiana Veldwisch, who heads a software product development team at Indigo Ag, wrote recently.

An alum of McGowan’s fellowship program, as well as Sloan School of Management at MIT, she launched her career the same year Microsoft’s CEO counseled women not to ask for raises and one of Boston’s most prominent social activists got caught embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars. The good news? Veldwisch, along with other young leaders we’ve worked with through the fellowship program, are aiming for an ethical society. “I am committed to building respectful and ethical teams through open feedback and aligned values,” she noted.

In the wake of choosing McGowan’s Ethical Leader of the Year, we gathered insights and opinions from young leaders we’ve worked with.

Here’s a sampling:

“To me, two core elements of ethical leadership are acting with integrity and aiming to serve a broader good.” —Nicole Chin Bell, director, economic and neighborhood development, for the City of Chicago

“Ethical leadership is needed to provide the best outcomes for all stakeholders, including customers, employees, suppliers, and local communities.” —Adam Wenneker, chief information officer at Wehner Multifamily

Ethical leadership is “about operating with a sense of purpose and energy to achieve ambitious goals. It is leadership that emphasizes thoughtful, data-informed, and openly reflective decision-making. It’s about doing what’s needed, even when it’s not your job.” —Nipun Jasuja, executive director, JPMorgan Chase

“We need ethical leaders to maintain the guardrails in which our capitalist system can thrive. Ethical leaders complement good government by steering the market away from excess.” —David Anthony Gross, director of industry relations and strategy at University of Chicago

Ethical leadership can be defined as “considering the best interests of all stakeholders when making decisions. Ethical leaders bring empathy to the workplace—they treat their teammates and customers as humans first, and business relations second.” —Emily Lampert, priority operations, Stripe