State and Local Policy and Leadership

In public administration, the ideal leadership skillset may reveal in a statesman. Although the term statesman is often misused by incompetent leaders who assume state positions, it is imperative to understand what statesmanship entails. According to Kotze & Venter (2011), an ideal statesman reveals emotional intelligence, honesty, integrity, personality attributes, specific managerial and leadership competencies, trustworthy, and charisma. Note that such an individual has elements that bolster ethical conduct such as integrity, trustworthy and honesty. They become acceptable role models in a community due to their moral uprightness and candid communication about the ethical ways of their followers (Brown, Trevino, & Harrison, 2005). The values mentioned above are critical in leadership since it is through such that leaders earn trust from their followers, and become accountable to God for everything they do (Kotze & Venter, 2011; Hebrews 13:17, New King James).

Nevertheless, there are many instances when leaders default themselves the legitimate statesmanship identity when they face challenges that concern federal mandates or public administration in general. For instance, corruption, lobbying, enactment of policies, partisanship, use of office, among others are leadership domains that put an individual’s leadership and skills to test, to earn public trust. Thus far, the term trust appears vital for ideal statesmanship. Therefore, public trust is subject to effective leadership in public sectors, and statesmen must utilize genius leadership strategies, and behave in accord to earn it (Van Horn, 2006). Some personal attributes to earn public trust may include a sense of cohesiveness, personal development, and higher levels of satisfaction among employees and subordinates; as well as, a dedicated sense of direction, being one with the public and environment, innovation, and a sense of enthusiasm to sustain the working atmosphere (Van Wart, 2003, pg. 214). The leadership-statesmanship duality is best illustrated in state and local policy and leadership as the case below.


The State of Virginia Public Trust

In 2014, the state government of Virginia had a bad reputation due to poor leadership of the preceding administration. Terry McAuliffe, the state governor of Virginia at the time noted that the state had failed in the Center for Public Integrity’s State Integrity Investigation grading several years, there were accountability and transparency issues, and the public trust in the state’s legislature had declined significantly (Vozella, 2014; Kusnetz, 2014). In the same year, the preceding governor “Robert F. McDonnell (R) and his wife, Maureen were convicted of corruption related to their acceptance of $177,000 in luxury gifts, vacations and sweetheart loans from a businessman seeking their help to promote a dietary supplement” (Vozella, 2014, par. 2). This type of extravagance had hindered the economic growth of the state and discouraged investor into the state. Robert’s government had established a culture of an unethical legislature, exercised through lobbying, partisanship and gamesmanship (Vozella, 2014, par. 9). Overall, the government had lost in its quest for ideal statesmanship, losing a considerable amount of public trust.

Noting the significance of public trust for the success of any administration, McAuliffe rolled out an ethics committee to correct the image of the government, create an enduring culture of integrity, and restore public trust (Vozella, 2014). The committee’s mission was to address a broad range of issues that hard tarnished the government’s image. The issues included lobbying scandals, misappropriation of funds, and political financing problems. Among the reforms proposed by the committee, McAuliffe tightened gift rules, track state challenges, monitor the “state’s campaign finance laws, and establish a nonpartisan process for redistricting and taking the politics out of judicial appointments” (Vozella, 2014, par. 20). Eventually, McAuliffe’s administration was able to correct the state’s image and earn more trust from the public. Kusnetz (2015) reported in 2015 that since the rolling out of the ethics committee that of all the states, Virginia had had dramatic improvements, improving its states integrity score. That reveals the effectiveness of McAuliffe’s leadership, to become an ideal statesman in the state of Virginia.

McAuliffe’s Leadership: The Virginia Case

An effective leader, who is an ideal stateman poses leadership skills, which they utilize through strategic leaderships strategies, in an accorded behavioural pattern. As mentioned above, there are many leadership skills, which cumulate to determine the success of an individual’s success (Van Horn, 2006). In the case, McAuliffe’s had to approach the state’s situation with honesty, integrity, decisiveness, and in a problem-solving attitude to make significant progress. The psalmist states that “people with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall” (Proverbs 10:9, NLT). McAuliffe also used communication skills to combat the challenges. This is important since open communication fosters emergency response, through immediate noticing and addressing of grievances (Stenberg & Austin, 2007). They add that effective communication helps employees in the public sector to unite with mutual respect and follow their team leaders. Besides, a leader’s effective communication enables leaders tp to communicate their vision and bring more people on board to work towards that vision. That way, McAuliffe was able to roll out a team of “pragmatists and problem-solvers” to help him combat the public trust issues in the state of Virginia (Kusnetz, 2014).

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Additionally, McAuliffe utilized an effective leadership strategy to regain public trust and improve the state’s integrity score. First, he publicly recognized the failures of the preceding administration, declared his vision as a pledge to eliminate integrity in the state legislature, and gave reports on the proceeding. The strategic leadership, which preferably should follow the SMART model is critical in building trust at a public administration level. The Harvard Business Review acknowledges that “people are more likely to trust you if they believe you have the technical know-how and the experience to make good decisions about the team’s work” (2019, par.1). Besides, leaders may be honest and open, which bolsters credibility. They can thus be honest and supportive, consistent with their word’s ad actions, and be trustworthy.


A statesman possesses leadership qualities that enable them to combat administrative challenges, including public distrust. Statemen utilize leadership strategies, to deploy their skills in correcting and improving the reputation of their administrations as Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches.” the governor McAuliffe of Virginia illustrates this in his attempt to restore a culture of integrity which was lost by his preceding administration. As part of his strategic leadership, McAuliffe defined and communicated the status of the state, rolled out a team to help him, and committed consistently to the improvement of Virginia’s integrity score. His efforts would drastically improve the state’s public trust as measured by the 2015 Center for Public Integrity’s State Integrity Investigation score.


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Kusnetz, N. (2015). Only three states score higher than D+ in State Integrity Investigation; 11 flunk – Center for Public Integrity. Center for Public Integrity. Retrieved 21 July 2020, from

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Van Horn, C.E. (2006). The state of the states (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ Press, Sage Publications. 

  Van Wart, M.  (2003).  Public-sector leadership theory: an assessment.  Public Administration Review, (63(2), 214-228.  

Vozella, L. (2014). McAuliffe unveils ethics panel to restore public trust after McDonnell conviction. The Washington post. Retrieved 21 July 2020, from