Ethics and morals are one of the most important pillars of a society. History tells us that it doesn't take long for immoral and unethical societies to perish. The prompt suggests that any person holding a public office must be extremely ethical and moral for him/her to be an effective leader. In my opinion, I strongly agree with this suggestion and argue that public officials should try to be the epitome of morality to serve as an example to the members of the state for 2 reasons.
To begin, the public official was elected as the leader by the people who expect him to be completely honest, ethical and moral. Thus, to be unethical would be equivalent to deceiving the very people who appointed him to this office. He might also have to face public denigration and humiliation or even legal actions might be initiated against him, which will greatly affect his social and professional life. For instance, recently Mr Kalmadi, a highly celebrated member of parliament, was given the responsibility of managing one of the most esteemed international sports events which were to be held in India. However, the event was a fiasco where a foot overbridge collapsed and several irregularities were found in the expenses of the event. He was found guilty for these irregularities and is now behind the bars. This not only ended his political career, but has also made it difficult for him to lead a respectable social life. The above example illustrates that the constituents of a state would not hesitate to punish a corrupt leader no matter how esteemed he was before his wrongdoing was discovered.
Further, public officials are expected to exemplify moral and ethical behavior of fellow citizens. Being a public figure, millions of people look up to them and imitate their behavior. However, if the leader is unethical and immoral, his followers are bound to be corrupt. Additionally, it will also hamper his effectiveness since it would be hypocritical for him to be unethical himself and expect ethical and moral behavior from others. For example, there are a lot of instances now-a-days where a public leader has avoided taking action or even supported certain miscreants fearing that he himself would be exposed of wrong doing if the scam comes to light and even more laws are broken. This vicious cycle continues and causes the leader to get even more entangled in corruption. Instances such as these actually promote unethical and immoral behavior in public rather than curbing it. One unethical or immoral act can thus handicap the leader in the execution of his duties. This might also create his image as an ineffective leader in the minds of the constituents of his state and ultimately lead to his removal from office in the next election.
Ofcourse, some might argue that sometimes it is imperative for public leaders to use unethical methods to bring miscreants to justice. However, wouldn't this serve as a contradictory example for the miscreants and general public who might be encouraged to use unethical and immoral ways to do things which from their perspective are right? Following the idealistic path is difficult for everyone however it is the only path for leaders to be successful and effective.