I was thinking a little bit more about the infectious nature of bad leadership, and, while I may be stating the obvious here, probably the best validation of the concept can be found in an organization I know rather intimately – public education.
Having already written extensively about my own experiences with poor administration, I’ll try not to repeat myself here, but if we consider institutions as microcosms of society, there can be little doubt about the ripple effect when “there is something rotten in the state of Denmark.” Whether at the board level or within the individual school, when teachers perceive inequity, corruption, or malfeasance (and believe me, those unsavory elements can be pervasive) but feel powerless to remedy the problems, the pernicious effect on morale is difficult to ignore. Some teachers will simply shrug their shoulders, close the door to their classroom and try to carry on doing the best job they can. Others will try to bring the wrongdoing to the union which, unless it is a contractual violation, will say it is beyond their purview. Still others, noble but naïve souls, may try to take the issue to a higher level, only to find that upper management really wants to ignore unpleasantness if it can, and more often than naught will try to threaten or punish the whistleblower. As you can see, none of the responses I’ve outlined here are satisfactory, largely because the problem continues to fester, gnawing away at teachers of good heart.
I realize that what I have written here is quite vague and theoretical sounding, but it is based on things I know but cannot be more specific about for a number of reasons. My point, however, is that just as a kind of moral malaise can beset those working within an organization, so too can the citizens of a country suffer in a similar way under poor political leadership.
Next time around I’d like to look at some possible antidotes to this illness.