Reflections on Ethical Leadership

By Jennifer Galambos, Kent Place Head of School

Dr. Galambos in a KPS math classroom

I am an extreme extrovert, impulsive, and as a Head of School, also a leader.  The three together can be a dangerous combination because I am inclined by my nature to make quick decisions and to share those decisions broadly with others.  I have always considered myself to have good morals and values. But becoming an ethical leader, one who considers all facts and evaluates a situation from multiple perspectives, has been an important and learned journey for me.  

Ethical Decision-Making Model

Since arriving at Kent Place three years ago, the Ethics Institute’s framework for ethical decision-making model has guided my most important decisions.  The framework starts with a careful examination of the facts. 

  • What exactly needs to be decided? 
  • Who are the stakeholders and how will a decision impact them?
  • What are the risks involved?

The framework for ethical decision-making also asks one to consider a situation through the lens of right vs right as opposed to a more knee jerk right vs wrong stance. Honestly, this is often the most challenging aspect of decision-making for me and I watch in awe as our students, particularly those competing on our champion ethics bowl teams, can naturally view a complicated issue by seeing the value in both sides.

Important of Ethical Conversations

When I visited Kent Place in 2017, the Ethics Institute was a huge draw for me to lead Kent Place.  As critical conversations have become more and more difficult to have in our national climate, and as citizens have become more polarized, I fear that this generation of children is learning to shout first and listen less, or to remain silent.  The framework for ethical decision-making enables critical conversations to be had with less fear and greater clarity.  It is why we have prioritized for every student at Kent Place to have a foundation in ethics before she graduates.  As an institution committed to raising young women to lead and advance our world, ethical leadership is imperative.  

My Ethical Leadership Journey

As much of a draw as the Ethics Institute was for me in coming to Kent Place, I never imagined that it would have such a deep impact on my own leadership.

One who practices ethical leadership works to build community, serve others, manifest honesty, respect others, and acts in accordance with justice. Over time, as one practices these values and leads through an ethical lens, one builds a safe community in which there is a degree of predictability and stability. Individuals know what to expect and more importantly what will and will not be tolerated.

I am still extroverted and impulsive, but now much better able to take a situation into consideration from all sides, weigh the facts, and make the decision that most aligns with my values as an educator.