What is a leader? Do they have moral obligations?

Neil Murphy, Opinion Editor

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What do you think of when you hear the word “leader?” By definition, a leader is a person who leads or commands a group, organization or country.

The definition is fitting, but what really makes a leader? Try and think of values and characteristics of a potential leader.

When I think of what a leader is and what they should embody, I think of confidence, commitment, passion and accountability.

One of the biggest things that should come to mind is honesty and integrity. What does integrity mean?

Integrity refers to the quality of being honest as well as having strong moral principles.

I’m certain that most people can agree that leaders should have honesty and integrity. Let’s break this down further.

What exactly are moral principles? Moral principles are the principles of what are right and wrong that are accepted by an individual or a social group.

There are plenty of examples to demonstrate what they are. For example, a moral principle we have in our society is telling the truth.

With many examples of what moral principles are, we can also see many examples of individuals in power who do not demonstrate these moral principles.

To give a classic example of someone who doesn’t demonstrate moral principles, look at President Donald Trump.

Trump constantly lies and doubles down on them once called out. He also isn’t tolerable in the slightest.

For example, he made comments about Jewish-Americans who vote for the Democratic Party, who allegedly show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

It’s astounding how someone like him is considered a great leader in the eyes of his base.

With that being said, let’s delve into moral obligations. Do our leaders have moral obligations?

We know what moral principles are as they were previously defined above. According to the definition, moral obligations are the compulsions brought on by our sensitivity to one another.

A term that I think strong leaders should keep in mind is “In loco parentis.” In loco parentis refers to the legal responsibility of a person to take on some of the functions and responsibility of a parent. We have that moral obligation to the people within our society.

Does this mean that leaders actually have moral obligations? Leaders should know that they have to make decisions that benefit the greater community.

If leaders are making decisions for everyone who they are leading, they need to have facts and reasons for why they make a certain decision.

Leaders need to be held accountable for the actions they make, just like everyone else. They need to be held to the same standards as everyone else.

We choose leaders because of their ability to lead and their ability to make the right decisions for the greater good and that represented what the majority would want.

In conclusion, leaders do have moral obligations and they should live up to them. Individuals in power should be held responsible for not living up to moral obligations. In loco parentis should be the basis of how leaders should act.

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