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Developing Ethical Leaders - Essay Sample

7 pages
1817 words
Sewanee University of the South
Type of paper: 
Term paper
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Ethics has been defined as well-founded standards about what is right and wrong. It prescribe what people ought to do, often regarding specific virtues, benefits to the society, obligations, and fairness. Additionally, ethically standards entail those that that incorporate virtues of loyalty, compassion, and honesty. Ethical standards include those standards associated with the right to freedom, right to life, right to privacy, and right to freedom from injury. In the context of leadership, an ethical leader imply one who apply ethical standards in leadership. Developing an ethical leader, therefore, involves nurturing leaders whose leadership styles are characterized by ethics irrespective of whether the leadership style is transformational, charismatic, authentic, situational, and so forth. Ethical leaders are characterized by certain behavior such as concern for the community, fairness, respect for others, honesty, and serving others (Sumi and Mesner-Andolsek, 2017). Further, ethical leadership is characterized by principles, integrity, and care, discussing ethical behavior, sanctioning unethical behavior, acting according to ethical standards, and rewarding ethical behavior. This paper is going to discuss about developing ethical leadership.

Ethics is a broad concept. When viewed in an organizational context, it is a frank conversation concerning those issues as well as values that are most critical to the business and the stakeholders. In an organizational context, ethical behavior is often described about ethical standards upheld by senior leaders as well as the organizational culture they create. Leadership has been described as the art of persuading subjects or followers to perform activities to meet the set goals. Leadership role, therefore, is to direct individual's efforts and activities toward the realization of certain goals. Not all leaders are the same since their styles vary depending on the personality characteristics (Deinert, Homan, Boer, Voelpel, and Gutermann, 2015). Additionally, leaders are defined by different practices, attitudes, habits, beliefs, values, and conduct which are influenced by professional or organizational culture. As they rise through the ranks of an organization, potential leaders are largely influenced by the organizational, institutional or professional culture.

Leadership demonstrates a relationship existing between a leader and his followers within an organizational and situational context. However, in the context of normative organizational ethics, leadership has been defined as how individuals ought or should behave in an organization. Assessment of leadership behavior include criteria that define personality characteristics and ethical decisions. Ethical leadership is critical to the organization since it is key to the provision of direction that facilitate the organization to fulfill its mission and vision, and achieve the set goals (Zhu, He, Trevino, Chao, and Wang, 2015). It has been pointed out that the moral health of an organization is dependent upon the standards as well as the example of the top leadership. Senior leadership has two major responsibilities: to make sure that decisions are made ethically, and to create an organizational climate where ethical follower behavior is nurtured. Since some of the followers are juniors staff, that is how ethical leaders are developed within an organization.

Although ethical leadership include many elements, it should not be perceived as preventing people from doing the wrong things. Instead, it should be viewed as a construct that enables people to be involved in doing right things. An ethical leader is viewed as one who stands for the principles of conduct that are important to him. Nurturing ethical leaders, therefore, requires that young leaders or junior employees are taught or mentored to observe to a universal standard of moral conduct or behavior. Nobody is born to be an ethical or unethical leader. Rather, ethical leadership involves a process that is consistent with social learning theory (Zhu, He, Trevino, Chao, and Wang, 2015). One who wish to be an ethical leader has to ask questions regarding what is right or wrong. Additionally, leadership involves a particular mode of conduct, and one who wish to develop ethical leadership skills ought to set a good example for followers as well as other people on what is right or wrong regarding particular actions. Ethical leaders are regarded as those leaders who have not only the healing but also the energizing powers of love. The mission of any leader is not only to serve but also support, and leadership passion is a product of compassion.

Based on the definition of leadership, ethical leaders are expected to demonstrate normatively acceptable conduct which can be observed through their actions as well as their interpersonal relationships. Such leaders should not just constrain the ethical attributes to themselves, but they should be observed to be promoting ethical behavior to their followers through decision-making, reinforcement, and two-way communication. When defined in the context of developing ethical leadership, leaders who wish to nurture ethical leaders ought to be ethical themselves. The conduct of ethical leaders act as role models for their followers since their actions are regarded as appropriate (Bonner, Greenbaum, and Mayer 2016). Additionally, ethical leaders not only communicate but also justify their actions to their followers by making ethics salient in their organizations. Since ethical leaders would wish to behave according to the principles of ethics, they not only set ethical standards in the company but also reward those who behave ethically. Besides rewarding those who behave ethically, ethical leaders also punish those who fail to behave ethically. Ethical leaders integrate ethical concepts in their decision-making processes. Ethical leaders consider consequences of their ethical decisions in an attempt to try to make fair choices. Based on the description of ethical leadership, it is evident that their ethical leaders can model potential leaders who are part of the followers. By observing the behavior of their ethical managers, supervisors, and CE, they also acquire skills of ethical leadership.

Performance is very important when it comes to organizational leadership. Since the objective of a leader is to achieve the goals of the organization, the issue of ethics also comes into perspective. Role models need to be successful leaders who steer their organizations to achieve their goals. While ethical leaders has often been cited as effective, practice is often different. In practice, there is a possibility of one being effective but unethical or being ineffective but ethical. Sometimes, one who is seen to be ethical and trustworthy is regarded as ethical. In certain situations, being highly effective can make one to be ethical. However, there has been a criteria of what defines a good leader. In some situations, being ethical may look appropriate and reasonable in the short run but may not be right in the long run. For example, certain behavior may be right in an organizational standpoint but may be morally wrong in the views of the society (Sezer, Gino, and Bazerman, 2015). Additionally, in some situations, leaders have moral intentions, but their incompetence may result in unethical outcomes. Therefore, one who is mentoring future leaders ought to teach young leaders when actions are ethical in an organizational context, and when do such actions become unethical in societal context.

The major goals of ethical managerial leadership, are to state clearly the ethical features inherent in all managerial decisions, and also to formulate and proceed to justify ethical principles that are desirable in responsible leadership. Potential future leaders ought to understand that being ethical is beyond fulfilling moral courage and minima. For leaders nurturing future leaders who will be expected to be ethical, it is not sufficient to just uphold high standards. What matters is not only to live as per the high ethical standards and help those who wish to learn to do the same (Shin, Sung, Choi, and Kim, 2015). However, to achieve that, a leader has to possess a mind that is cast on ethics and one who is practicing ethical principles consistently. While one may understand what is required to be an ethical leader, being surrounded by people with negative attitude toward ethics can compromise ability to develop ethical leadership. Therefore, developing ethical leadership requires the mentor and the mentee to understand that despite the presence of unfavorable environment to practice ethics, one has to be consistent in the way of maintaining ethical behavior.

Leaders act as role models for their followers, and they define limits of behavioral boundaries of what is regarded right or wrong in an organizational context. The acceptable behavior is fostered by a combination of culture and the process of socialization of new employees. Employees learn ethics by observing what their leaders do (Bonner, Greenbaum, and Mayer 2016). The more the leaders apply demonstrate ethical practices by doing, the more they gain the trust and respect from the followers. Eventually, the employees will be willing to do as per the behavior of their leader. While good ethical practices may hurt others, a leader ought to tolerate a wide range of followers including those who might view the leader as a threat to their interests. In the context of the leader-follower relationship, it should be understood that ethics is not just a one-time random event but a process.

Leaders can influence followers to adopt ethical behavior. However, to influence them, a leader should not just communicate acceptable ethical standards but should use real examples. This imply that merely drafting a code of ethics is not enough step toward effecting ethical behavior in a company (Kaptein, 2015). Additionally, ethics ought to be incorporated in all the aspect of the organization. Above all, for the followers or employees to view their leader or manager as ethical, one has to be credible, honest, courageous, strong, honest, and trustworthy. While nurturing future ethical leaders, it is also important to understand that effective leaders are those who are perceived to be possess traits such as honesty, credibility, and integrity. Since certain virtues such as trustworthiness, humility, service, unity, and justice enhances leader-follower relationships, leaders who wish to develop ethical leaders ought to possess these virtues. Evidence has shown that ethical leaders are more likely to be ranked high for their potential to be promoted to senior leadership positions.

Organizations that consider ethics to be crucial element ought to pay more attention when recruiting candidates so that they can fit in the existing organizational culture. People and customers wish to be associated with organizations with high reputation. However, there are occasions where employees may not behave ethically as they are expected. Young managers may not be willing to demonstrate ethical behavior due to four factors. Managers are pressured to focus on performance, demonstrate that they are team-players and loyal, follow the law and are expected not to invest a lot in ethical behavior. Such rules, however, may have a negative impact in fostering an ethical culture in an organization. In such an environment, only a minority of managers may believe that ethics pays in career advancement. To encourage all the young managers to believe that ethics pays in their career advancement, the rules ought to be applied flexibly.

Managers in their early career may overlook an ethical issue or remain silent when they find it is not their responsibility, view it as standard practice, regard it as...

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