Leadership & Ethics

There are many ways looking at the word “leadership” and many definition of it depending on how a person interprets it. Leadership can be related to a person that leads, and manages a person whether it is in a corporate company or in an army camp as a general. What does leadership actually mean? Generally, “leadership” is a term where a person that help themselves as well as assisting others into doing the things in the correct manner (Anon., 2013). In other sources, leadership can be defined as a person that lead a particular team or a person that had the capability to lead their followers (Leadership, n.d.)


Figure 1: Leadership (Anon., 2016)


Figure 2: Ethics (Hasa, 2016)

Ethics on the other hand is defined as a person’s behavior in dealing with his or her action whether are good or bad or morally right or wrong (Ethics, n.d.). Ethics is divided into two main theories namely deontological and teleological. Cammi L. Derr indicated that “Ethics can be used to provide organizational leaders with guidelines to aid them in their career roles as to promote them as a good role model to the employees that serve under them” (Derr, 2012).

Deontological ethics focuses on the rules, morality, values and virtues while teleological ethic focuses on the consequences, results and the final outcomes. Deontological ethics as mentioned by a Greek Philosopher, Plato, that he told his audiences to make changes from a person that think “what should I do?” which is an act-centric morality to a more agent-centric morality where the first thought of a person should be “what sort of person should I be?” (Carole Still, M005 Module Leader). Further information on these two theories is shown below;



Ethics that emphasizes on duties and rules that is initially proposed by an influential philosopher Immanuel Kant. This rule is soon known as the “Kantian Deontology” (Rich, 2013, pp. 19-21)

Ethics that focusses on consequences proposed or introduced by a British philosopher, Jeremy Bentham then redefined by an Englishman, John Stuart Mill. This ethic is then known as consequentialism or utilitarianism. (Rich, 2013, pp. 19-21)

Good or bad is mainly determined by the evidence of an action performed Goodness or badness can only be determined by the end results. 
Considered as ethical if the only good thing is the good will behind the actions. Considered as ethical if and only if it produces the greatest good for the greatest of number

Telling a lie during a court trial is a wrong doing even if you know telling that lie could save your friend from a life sentence jail punishment.


Animal experimentation is considered unethical. But it is still can be considered ethical because it produced benefits to human welfare.

Ethical Leadership

What is ethical leadership? Ethical leadership indicates a leadership that provides the possibility of an ethical mindset into their followers through a series of values, thoughts, attitudes and respected behavior of a possible leader (Ruiz, et al., 2011). Elsewhere, Rubin, Dierdorff and Brown has also come to a conclusion that an ethical leadership can be expected through their personal actions, interpersonal action when cooperating with others in their work tasks as well as the promotion of such conduct to followers via a two way communications, augmentations, and lastly decision making (Rubin, et al., 2010).

Ethical leadership can be explained further using the as shown in the figure below; 4V Model of Ethical Leadership

Figure 3: 4V Model of Ethical Leadership Source: (Grace, n.d.)

The model focuses on the moral concept, human, leadership and community development (Grace, n.d.). From the model, there are four main highlights of being an ethical leader namely Values, Virtue, Vision and Voice. The definitions of all four highlights are explained in the table below:

Values and Vision Defines the purposes and directions which is part of an essential highlight of an ethical leader
Voice To present necessary values and vision in a meaningful term.
Virtues Represents good moral behavior, differentiate ethical from unethical behaviors or practices.

Benefits of Ethical Leadership

How ethical leadership relevant to a leader? Leaders that are able to foster ethical leadership most of the time are able to benefit themselves, their team of followers and the organization they are under. The point of an ethical leader is able to provide influences to their followers, developing an understanding to the customers of what we are doing, develop a trust among one another, improves brand identity and drives organization’s business results. Having an unethical leader in an organization inflect stress and pressure to the fellow employees and thus this will provide unnecessary setback to the running business of the organization.

Example of poor ethical leadership refers to an organization namely Enron Corporation. The CEO of Enron, Kenneth Lay, as a leader, abused his power by placing his interest above those of his employees and the public and not taking into consideration to shoulder responsibilities. The Board of Director of Enron literally had no proper insight of the scenarios of the corporation and rarely challenges the management led by Lay. All these irresponsible behaviors and unethical leadership eventually lead to the bankruptcy and downfall of Enron Corporation. (Johnson, 2003)

Companies that are able excel in excellence in three areas namely; providing ethical business standards and permanent practices, ensuring leaders and followers are able to make good decisions and choices and lastly developing bright industrial standards. For example, Ford Automotive, that recognizes their employees’ dedication and to improve their well-being and productivity and efficiency, an initiative called The Sustainable Workforce Initiative was introduced which focuses for the welfare of their employees (Powell, Neely and Sawayda 2014).

Ford and John Deere as part of 2015 World’s Most Ethical Companies, Source: (Ethisphere, 2014)

 Being a great leader doesn’t need to be powerful, rich or anything but being ethical is the utmost importance. Without ethical leadership, leaders will end up leading their followers to the wrong pathway and or worst, downfall of an organization, e.g. Enron Corporation. Ensure at all times, as a leader, they must keep mindset straight by questioning themselves whether have they done the right thing or not. If not, retrace back and reconsider those acts and thoughts. As quoted by Edward Hennessey, “Ethics must begin at the top of an organization. It is a leadership issue and the chief executive must set the example”

[823 Words]


Anon., 2013. What is Leadership?. [Online]
Available at: http://dmcodyssey.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/What-is-Leadership_.pdf
[Accessed 10 September 2016].

Anon., 2015. Business.com. [Online]
Available at: http://www.business.com/quotes/leadership-is-the-art-of-getting-someone-else-to-do-something-you-want-done-because-he-wants-to-do-it/
[Accessed 9 September 2016].

Anon., 2016. Portland State University. [Online]
Available at: https://www.pdx.edu/student-leadership/leadership-fellows-program
[Accessed 10 September 2016].

Derr, C. L., 2012. Accountability and Ethics. Journal of Leadership, Volume 9, p. 6.

Ethics, n.d. Merriam-Webster. [Online]
Available at: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ethic
[Accessed 11 September 2016].

Ethisphere, 2014. Ethisphere. [Online]
Available at: http://worldsmostethicalcompanies.ethisphere.com/
[Accessed 12 September 2016].

Grace, B., n.d. Center of Ethical Leadership. [Online]
Available at: http://www.ethicalleadership.org/concepts-and-philosophies.html
[Accessed 12 September 2016].

Hasa, 2016. Pedia.com. [Online]
Available at: http://pediaa.com/difference-between-ethics-and-values/
[Accessed 11 September 2016].

Johnson, C., 2003. Enron’s Ethical Collapse: Lessons for Leadership Educators. Journal of Leadership Education, 2(1), pp. 45 – 56 .

Leadership, n.d. Leadership. [Online]
Available at: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leadership
[Accessed 11 September 2016].

Powell, E., Neely, C. and Sawayda, J. (2014) “Ford Motor Company Manages Ethics And Social Responsibility”. Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative 1-12

Rich, K. L., 2013. Introduction to Ethics. In: Nursing ethics across the curriculum and into practice. 3rd ed. s.l.:Jones & Bartlet Learning, pp. 19-21.

Rubin, R. S., Dierdorff, E. C. & Brown, M. E., 2010. Do Ethical Leaders Get Ahead? Exploring Ethical Leadership and Promotability. Business Ethics Quarterly , 20(2), pp. 215 – 236.

Ruiz, P., Ruiz, C. & Martinez, R., 2011. Improving the ‘‘Leader–Follower’’ Relationship: Top Manager or Supervisorr? The Ethical Leadership Trickle-Down Effect on Follower Job Response. Journal of Business Ethics, 99(4), pp. 587 – 608.