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Counteracting corruption: 3 questions of self-reflection for leaders
November 19, 2019

Image of paper money

By Elise Kemp

Corruption is a concept that may be familiar to many, especially in Latin America. There are often campaigns for anti-corruption reforms in government, businesses publicly fighting against corrupt competitors, and protests blocking roads to advocate for anti-corruption.

statisticsIt is a common sentiment: Corruption hurts people, and no one wants a corrupt government or a corrupt organization. But how can this change? You might feel the power of your voice and your vote can only do so much to change the highest levels of bureaucracy, but as individuals, you can start from the grassroots and make change in your sphere from the bottom up.

As everyday citizens, business owners, entrepreneurs, family members, you can participate in creating a world of integrity. Here are a few questions of self-reflection to ask yourself to help you live and lead with integrity.

  1. Who is in your sphere of influence?

Corruption is, by definition, fraudulent or dishonest conduct of power. Take a look at your role in your sphere of influence and determine the power you have. Understand that you have a certain amount of power in your sphere of influence to fight against corrupt practices. Your families, your employees, your donors, your followers, and your customers: All are going to entrust you with resources.

For example, say you are volunteering with an NGO and raising funds. You would make the decision to uphold accountability for where these funds are being directed through digitized fundraising methods, rather than routing funds to a personal bank account. This is because as a fundraiser, you hold the power over your donors to steward the funds you are given. These donors are entrusting you to follow through with the service they invested in.

  1. Whose resources are you responsible for?

What would you expect if the roles were reversed? Evaluating your position of power is not simply to reassure yourself of the people who are underneath you, but rather to humbly remind yourself of the people whose welfare or personal assets you are responsible for.

Whether you have employees, donors, investors, dependent family members or friends, you have the chance to steward their relationship to you and live by example. Creating equality and fighting corruption from the bottom up starts by treating others as you would want to be treated.

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  1. Who is in your community to uplift you?

Do not run the race alone. A leader is only as great as the people they surround themselves with. If you have worked your way up, sometimes you have found that it can be lonely and you may not have the community to help provide solutions to fight against corruption. Meet up for a cup of coffee with someone who is doing something similar to you and develop your community. Chances are, the things that you are struggling with you have in common with another young entrepreneur or professional, and accountability can give you the boost you need.


Together, we can make changes in our society, one building block at a time. The YLAI Network’s #YLAIforIntegrity initiative aims to equip you to be a change-maker on the ground in your country and your region. We believe that ethical business and grassroots organizations really have the capability to turn a corrupt pattern on its head, but we cannot be fighting alone. With the YLAI Network, you can join forces with change-makers that you can lean on for advice, connections, resources, tips, and support.

Elise KempElise Kemp is in Costa Rica studying human rights and policy in the context of Latin America while corresponding to the YLAI Network as a content management intern. She is a political science major at Whitworth University and has served in different NGOs in Costa Rica.

Este artículo está disponible en español.