Trust, Service

& Accountability

Behaving Ethically

Leadership and culture

How a leader behaves, and how a leader treats others, will directly and powerfully influence the culture and practices of the agency and its many workplaces.

They are empowered by legislation with important powers, functions, responsibilities and resources; and they are directly accountable to at least one Minister for the exercise of those powers, functions, responsibilities and resources.

Heads of agencies also delegate many of their powers and duties to other executives or managers who are in turn accountable to the head of the agency for the use of their government powers, functions, responsibilities and resources.  Managers, in their turn, may delegate decision-making and financial responsibility to other employees whilst making them accountable for their use.

Heads of agencies can ensure all their agency’s employees are clear about these delegations and are aware of their responsibilities, duties and accountabilities by:

  • Having clear contracts for senior executives stipulating each executive’s responsibilities, duties and accountabilities
  • Having clear job descriptions for all managers that make outline each manager’s responsibilities, duties and accountabilities
  • Having clear job descriptions for all employees that articulate each employee’s responsibilities, duties and accountabilities.

In addition to having written requirements, good practice governance requires establishing a corporate culture which promotes the importance of the objective, values and principles of the Ethical Framework including:

  • Objectives such as:
    • Preserve the public interest
    • Defend public value
    • Add professional quality and value to the commitments of the Government of the day
    • Be merit-based and apolitical
    • Implement the decisions of the Government
      of the day
  • Values and principles such as:
    • Place the public interest over personal interest
    • Uphold the law, institutions of government and democratic principles
    • Provide apolitical and non-partisan advice
    • Recruit and promote staff on merit (For a practical example of how this principle may apply, see the ethical scenario ‘A Qualified Applicant’ at page 119‘)
    • Take responsibility for decisions and actions
    • Provide transparency to enable public scrutiny
    • Observe standards for safety
    • Be fiscally responsible and focus on efficient, effective and prudent use of resources.

For assistance on how to develop ethical agency cultures see the Public Service Commission guide on good ethical practice – changing agency culture.