[Kip Currier: HUD Secretary Ben Carson's statement in the excerpt below is the money quote take-away from this article.
Ethics is not only about the substantive impacts of actions but also about how those actions look to other people: The messages--both spoken and unspoken--that our actions communicate about our own values.
A phrase often heard regarding ethical issues is "air of impropriety", meaning that an action has a sense of not seeming "right", of not being "above board", of not looking good. Even if an action may technically be legal or ethical.
Good ethical decision-making includes consideration of our own internal compasses and the external signals that our actions send to other people. Not just in the current buzzphrase sense of "the optics" of something, but what we are communicating about our priorities and values.
Ethical leadership--especially public service--is concerned with promoting trust in the integrity of our leaders, our institutions, our democratic values and ideals. Being mindful about how something looks--the example we set for others--is an integral component of ethical leadership. That's worth thinking about.]