The mission of the Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership is to improve the quality of leadership in public service, with particular emphasis on ethical decision making and accountability. On the pages of this website, you will find information on how we are accomplishing that mission through our teaching, research, and public service activities.
We hope that our programs stimulate your interest and encourage you to become involved in our mission, as a participant or supporter.
Pessimists tell us that there is a leadership vacuum in public life. They point to the political polarization of our public discourse, the resulting impasse on pressing public issues, and the shocking scandals that have rocked government and nonprofit institutions at the highest levels of leadership. Certainly, the challenge of leadership is great. Yet we believe that the contemporary scene offers opportunities as well as challenges. In our view, five core values (and associated skills) are essential for effective leadership in today’s complex world:
- Self-knowledge of one’s strengths and weaknesses and the willingness to put ego aside for the benefit of the greater good;
- A global and systems perspective, which appreciates the interdependence of our society and our world and acknowledges that rarely are the objectives of leaders accomplished by acting alone;
- An abiding sense of stewardship, which helps leaders understand that they are but temporary stewards of the resources under their command and that their ultimate task is to relinquish them to the next generation in better condition;
- Integrity, which commits the leader to doing the right thing in accordance with an ethical code that can be explained and defended; and,
- Accountability, which commits the leader to openness and transparency, inviting public scrutiny of the leadership process.
In all of our programs we try to illustrate these five values, continuously modifying and elaborating on them based on our experience and research. It is a process of growth that will likely never end, but the journey is enormously rewarding and exciting.
We invite you to join us on this journey and we look forward to working with you.