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Ethics and leadership

Great leaders
Great leaders continuation.....
Traits and motives
Ethics and leadership
Contingency and situational leadership
Transformational leadership
Power, politics and leadership
Communication and conflict resolution skills
Are you a good leader?? Theories of what makes a good leader..
Are you a good leader? (Game)


Ethics defined

Many argue that ethics lies in the heart of leadership. It is believed that to have good ethics one will be a good and effective leader. Then again the question is what is good and what is bad? there is of course a fine line between here and what might be right for one person might not necessarily be so for another. Moreover it all comes down to social norm, values, and most importantly culture. However in general ethics or ethical behaviour will be defined as the right conduct.




Values, morals and leadership

Morality and ethics start with values. Values can be defined as, constructs representing generalised behaviours or states that are considered by individual to be important. These values are assessed, developed and revised throughout life but many are relatively established by young adulthood. They are more or less personally held beliefs. Many things influence the values that each of us hold, this includes early care givers, social cultural context, education, books, media, peers, religion, experiences and also organizational and professional cultural context.

Servant leadership

One of the model of leadership that goes within an ethical context is servant leadership. This is whereby leaders lead because he/she wants to serve the people. People follow such leaders freely because they trust them, since the leader is thinking of others instead of himself.

Models of ethical decision making

Most people wants to make not only good decisions but ethical ones also. There are two main models used in leadership to go about making decision, these are, the utilitarianism (consequentialism) model and the Non-consequentialism model.

Utilitarianism (consequentialism)

In this model, an action is ethical if the benefits are greater for the largest number of people than could be produced by any other action. The ethical nature of the decision is made on the basis of the consequences of that action. Moreover the potential benefits and the harm of each action is more or less measured.


Such a model assumes that some actions are right irrespective of the consequences. For instance duties must be obeyed and rights acknowledge regardless of the outcomes. In this model the decision as to what is right and wrong is derived from three possible sources, and that is legal authority, divine authority and human reasons.

Legal authority

The law for instance set down the rights and duties of the citizens and  that of the organizations. Then again there is always the debate that if it is lawful it does not mean that it is neccessarily ethical.

Religious authority

There is the norm that the word of the divine must be obeyed, otherwise the consequences rest with the divine athority, which is often known as karma in this life or the after life. Religions have rules concerning rights and wrongs that followers are expected to abide to, then again the different religions differs from each other, moreover different people are expected to behave in different ways, which again brings the question of what is really ethical.

Human reasons

Human reasons is basically based on the norm of the society. It is what we are socialised into from a very young age of what is wrong and what is right. For instance the belief that everyone should be treated equally.

(Durbin, Dalglish & Miller, 2006, pp. 124-130)

Ethical people

Ethical individuals includes Mother Theresa, the Dalai lama, the pope and so forth then again it comes down to personal opinion of what is ethical or not.