ETHICS IN LEADERSHIP
What is Ethical Leadership? Ethics refer to the desirable and appropriate values and morals according to an individual or the society at large. Ethics deal with the purity of individuals and their intentions. Ethics serve as guidelines for analyzing “what is good or bad” in a specific scenario. Leader is person who influences the thoughts and behaviours of others. A leader is one who establishes the direction for others to willingly follow. One person can serve as a leader or several persons might share leadership. So the art or technique to do so is Leadership. Hence Leadership is about raising the aspirations of followers and enthusing people with a desire to complete the common goals. Robert Kennedy summed up leadership best when he said, “Others see things as they are and wonder why; I see them as they are not and say why not?” Therefore correlating ethics with leadership, we find that ethics is all about the leader’s identity and the leader’s role. Some of the examples of ethical leaders are Bill Gates, Mahatma Gandhi etc. Ethical leader embraces the act of service as described by Robert Greenleaf (3) in his concept of “servant leadership.” The effective leader acts as a servant to others engaged in the enterprise, not in any sense of inferiority, but as one who empowers others to achieve success by focusing on right action.
Traits/ Characteristics of Ethical Leader Dignity and respectfulness: He respects others. An ethical leader should not use his followers as a medium to achieve his personal goals. He should respect their feelings, decision and values. Respecting the followers implies listening effectively to them, being compassionate to them, as well as being liberal in hearing opposing viewpoints. In short, it implies treating the followers in a manner that authenticate their values and beliefs. Serving others: He serves others. An ethical leader should place his follower’s interests ahead of his interests. He should be humane. He must act in a manner that is always fruitful for his followers. Justice: He is fair and just. An ethical leader must treat all his followers equally. There should be no personal bias. Wherever some followers are treated differently, Ground for differential treatment should be fair, clear, and built on morality. Community building: He develops community. An ethical leader considers his own purpose as well as his followers’ purpose, while making efforts to achieve the goals suitable to both of them. He is considerate to the community interests. He does not overlook the followers’ intentions. He works harder for the community goals. Honesty: He is loyal and honest. Honesty is essential to be an ethical and effective
leader. Honest leaders can be always relied upon and depended upon. They always earn respect of their followers. An honest leader presents the fact and circumstances truly and completely, no matter how critical and harmful the fact may be. He does not misrepresent any fact.
Ethical Leadership Theories Ethical leadership theories fall into two categories Leader's conduct (The actions and behaviour of leaders) Consequences (Theological theories) - Focus on what is right and what is wrong. A. Ethical Egoism - An individual should act to create the greatest good for themselves. The leaders should take a career that they would selfishly enjoy. This is closely related to transactional leadership theories. For example, a middle-level manager who wants their team to be the best in the company is acting out of ethical egoism. B. Utilitarianism - We should act to create the greatest good for the greatest number. Maximize the social benefits while minimizing the social costs. Example: when the US government allocates a large portion of the federal budget to the health care instead of catastrophic illness, it is acting out of the utilitarian ethics. C. Altruism - This is the opposite of Ethical Egoism and is concerned with...
References: 1. Michel Dion, (2012) "Are ethical theories relevant for ethical leadership?” Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 33 Iss: 1, pp.4 – 24. 2. By Karinlynn, Sep 2008, “Deontological vs. Teleological Ethical Systems”. 3. Robert Greenleaf, “The Servant as Leader (Minnesota: The Robert K. Greenleaf Center, 1970)”. 4. Peter G. Northouse Nov 2008, “Introduction to Leadership: Concepts and Practice”. 5. John Rawls, (1971) “A Theory of Justice” Harvard University Press. 6. John Dalla Costa 1998 “The Ethical Imperative: Why Moral Leadership Is Good Business”. 7. Bill Grace, (1990) “The 4-V Model of Ethical Leadership”. 8. Chris Raymond, (2011) “Ethical Leadership in a Global Marketplace”. 9. B. M. Bass & Steidlmeier, (1999) “Ethics, character and authentic transformational leadership behaviour”. Leadership Quarterly, 10(2), 181-217. 10. K. S. Kitchener, (1984) “Intuition, critical evaluation and ethical principles: The foundation for ethical decisions in counselling psychology”. Counselling Psychologist, 12(3), 43-55. 11. P. Senge, (1990). “The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization”. New York: Doubleday.
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