Leadership Ethics

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Northouse, 5th edition

Chapter 15

1

Leadership Ethics Perspective

Ethical Theories

Principles of Ethical Leadership

Diverse Ethical Perspectives

How Does the Leadership Ethical Perspective Work?

Overview

2

Leadership Ethics Description

Ethics

Is a derivative of the Greek word ethos, meaning customs, conduct, or character

Is concerned with the kinds of values and morals an individual or society ascribes as desirable or appropriate

Focuses on the virtuousness of individuals and their motives

Ethical Theory

Provides a system of rules or principles as a guide in making decisions about what is right/wrong and good/bad in a specific situation

Provides a basis for understanding what it means to be a morally decent human being

Definition & Theory

3

Development of ethical theory goes back to Plato and Aristotle. Aristotle first used the term "ethics" to name a field of study developed by his predecessors Socrates and Plato.

Leadership Ethics Description

Ethics & Leadership

Has to do with what leaders do and who leaders are

It is concerned with the nature of the leaders’ behavior and their virtuousness

In any decision-making situation, ethical issues are either implicitly or explicitly involved

What choices leaders make and how they respond in a particular circumstance are informed and directed by their ethics

4

Research suggested that the ethical theory (Northouse, 2001) provides a system of rules or principles that guide us in making decisions about what are “right or wrong” and “good or bad” in a particular situation. It provides a basis for understanding what it means to be a morally decent human being. Ethics has to do with what (Northhouse, 2001) leaders do and who they are. It is concerned with the nature of leaders’ behavior and their virtuousness. In any decision-making situation, ethical issues are either implicitly or explicitly involved.

Ethical Theories

Two Broad Domains: Theories about leaders’ conduct and about leaders’ character

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Ethical theory (Northouse, 2001) provides a set of principles that guides leaders in making decisions about how to act and how to be a morally decent person. In the Western tradition, ethical theories are typically divided into two kinds: theories about conduct and character. Theories about conduct emphasize the consequences of leader behavior (teleological approach) or the rules that govern their behavior (deontological approach). Virtue-based theories focus on the character of leaders, and they stress qualities such as courage, honesty, fairness, and fidelity.

Ethical Theories

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Ethical Egoism – An individual should act to create the greatest good for themselves. A leaders should take a career that they would selfishly enjoy (Avolio & Locke, 2002). 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.

Utilitarianism – We should act to create he greatest good for the greatest number. Maximize the social benefits while minimizing the social costs (Shumann, 2001). 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.

Altruism – This is the opposite of Ethical Egoism and is concerned with showing the best interest for others even when it runs contrary to self-interest. Authentic transformational leadership is based on altruistic behavior (Bass, Steidlmeier, 1999).

Ethical Theories

Teleological Theories: focus on consequences of leaders’ actions, results

Three different approaches to making decisions regarding moral conduct –

Ethical egoism (create greatest good for the leader)

Closely related to transactional leadership theories

Example: leader takes a political stand on an issue for no other reason than to get re-elected

CONDUCT

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Consequences (Theological theories) – Focus on what is right and what is wrong.

Ethical Theories

Teleological Theories, cont’d.

Three different approaches to making decisions regarding moral conduct –

Utilitarianism (create greatest good for greatest number)

Example: leader distributes scarce resources so as to maximize benefit to everyone, while hurting the fewest; preventive healthcare vs. catastrophic illnesses

Altruism (show concern for best interests of others)

Authentic transformational leadership is based on altruistic principles

Example: the work of Mother Theresa, who gave her entire life to help the poor

CONDUCT

8

Ethical Theories

Deontological Theories: duty driven, for example, relates not only to consequences but also to whether action itself is good

Focuses on the actions of the leader and his/her moral obligation and responsibilities to do the right thing

Example: telling the truth, keeping promises, being fair

CONDUCT

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Duty (Deontological Theories)

This is telling the truth, keeping promises, being fair, independent of the consequences.

Actions should not infringe on others' rights and should not further the moral rights of others.

Ethical Theories

Virtue-based Theories: about leader’s character

Focus on who people are as people

Rather than tell people what to do, tell people what to be

Help people become more virtuous through training and development

Virtues present within person’s disposition, and practice makes good values habitual

Examples: courage, honesty, fairness, justice, integrity, humility

CHARACTER

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Leader's character (Who they are)

Virtue-based theories –

• These are not innate, but can be acquired.

• They are rooted in heart of the individual and in their disposition.

• It focuses on telling people "what to be" as opposed of "what to do"

Examples include courage, temperance, generosity, self-control, honesty, sociability, modesty, fairness, and justice.

This theory is about being and becoming a worthy human being.

Centrality of Ethics to Leadership

Influence dimension of leadership requires the leader to have an impact on the lives of followers

Power and control differences create enormous ethical responsibility for leader’s

Respect for persons – sensitive to followers’ own interests, and needs

Leaders help to establish and reinforce organizational values – an ethical climate

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Ethics plays a central role in the leadership process.

Diverse Perspectives of Leadership

Heifetz’s Perspective

Emphasizes how leaders help followers to confront conflicting values & to effect change from conflict

Ethical perspective that speaks directly to –

Values of workers

Values of organizations and the communities in which they work

Leaders use authority to mobilize followers to

Get people focused on issues

Act as a reality test regarding information

Manage and frame issues

Orchestrate conflicting perspectives

Facilitate the decision-making process

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Several prominent scholars – Heifetz, Burns and Greenleaf – they’ve made unique contributions to our understanding of ethical leadership –

The theme that is common to all 3 – is an ethic of caring – which pays attention to followers needs and the importance of leader-follower relationships.

Heifetz’ – A psychiatrist who observed world leaders.

His approach emphasizes how leaders help followers confront conflict and effect changes from conflict. It’s about helping followers deal with conflicting values that emerge in rapidly changing work environments and social cultures.

His approach deals with values. Leaders must utilize authority to immobilize people to face tough issues.

The leader provides the holding environment in which there is trust, nurturance, and empathy.

The leader's duty is to assist followers in struggling with change and personal growth.

 

Diverse Perspectives of Leadership

Heifetz’s Perspective

Emphasizes how, cont’d.

Leaders use authority to mobilize followers to

Get people focused on issues

Act as a reality test regarding information

Manage and frame issues

Orchestrate conflicting perspectives

Facilitate the decision-making process

Leader provides a holding environment, a supportive context in which there is –

Trust, nurturance & empathy

Leaders duties –

Assist the follower in struggling with change and personal growth

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Diverse Perspectives of Leadership

Burn’s Perspective

Theory of Transformational Leadership

Strong emphasis on followers’ needs, values & morals

Leaders help followers in their personal struggles concerning conflicting values

Stressing values such as:

Liberty

Justice

Equality

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Transformational leadership places a strong emphasis on followers' needs, values, and morals.

It involves attempts by leaders to move followers to higher standards of responsibility.

It is the responsibility of the leader to help followers assess their own values and needs in order to raise them to a higher level of functioning, to a level that will stress values such a liberty, justice, and equality

Diverse Perspectives of Leadership

Burn’s Perspective

Theory of Transformational Leadership, cont’d.

Connection between leader & follower

Raises level of morality of both

Leader’s Role

Assist followers in assessing their values & needs

Help followers to rise to a higher level of functioning

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Diverse Perspectives of Leadership

Greenleaf’s Perspective

Servant Leadership – has strong altruistic ethical overtones

Leaders –

focus on & attentive to needs of followers

empathize with followers

take care of and nurture followers

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Leadership has a moral dimension

Greenleaf developed a paradoxical approach to leadership called "Servant leadership" in 1970s

It gained increased popularity in recent years.

It has a strong altruistic ethical overtone and emphasizes that leaders should be attentive to concerns or their followers.

He argued that leadership was bestowed on a person who is by nature a servant. The way an individual becomes a leader is by first being a servant.

A servant leader focuses on the needs of the followers and helps them become more knowledgeable, more free, more autonomous and more like servants themselves.

Servant leader has a social responsibility to be concerned with the have-nots and to recognize them as equal stakeholders in the organization.

Greenleaf places a great deal of emphasis on listening, empathy, and unconditional acceptance of others.

Many of these ethical theories emphasis that the relationship between leader-follower is an "ethical" one and it’s related to the "caring principle"(Gilligan, 1982).

Diverse Perspectives of Leadership

Greenleaf’s Perspective

Leader has a social responsibility to be concerned with “have-nots” in the organization and:

Remove inequalities & social injustices

Uses less institutional power

Uses less control

Shifts authority to followers

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Diverse Perspectives of Leadership

Greenleaf’s Perspective

Servant Leadership Values:

Involvement

Respect

Trust

Individual strength

Follower Needs

Become more knowledgeable

More autonomous

Become more like servants

Listening

Empathy

Unconditional acceptance

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Diverse Perspectives of Leadership

Research –1999-2002

Includes wide range of concepts focused on:

Identifying attributes of service leadership

Examining conceptual frameworks of servant leadership

Developing instruments to measure servant leadership

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Leadership has a moral dimension

Ethical Leadership

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Northouse has listed five principles of ethical leadership. Actually the origins of these can be traced back to Aristotle. These principles provide a foundation for the development of sound ethical leadership. According to these principles ethical leaders respect others, serve others, are just, are honest and build community. To be an ethical leader, we must be sensitive to the needs of others, treat others in ways that are just and care for others.

Principles of Ethical Leadership

Ethics – is central to leadership because of:

The process of influence

The need to engage followers to accomplish mutual goals

The impact leaders have on establishing the organization’s values

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Three points that reinforce the impact a leader has on followers, and the responsibility leaders have to be sensitive to how their leadership affects followers lives and why Ethics is central to leadership, because of: The process of influence …..

Principles of Ethical Leadership

Respects

Others

Leader shall:

Treat other people’s values and decisions with respect

Allow others to be themselves with creative wants and desires

Approach others with a sense of unconditional worth and value individual differences

Leader behaviors:

– Listens closely to subordinates

– Is empathic

– Is tolerant of opposing viewpoints

Treating others as ends (their own goals)

rather than as means (to leaders’ personal goals)

22

Principles of Ethical Leadership

Leader’s have –

A duty to help others pursue their own legitimate interests and goals

To be stewards of the organization’s vision; in serving others they: clarify, nurture, and integrate the vision with, not for, organization members

An ethical responsibility to make decisions that are beneficial to their followers’ welfare

Follower-centered – Based on the altruistic principle of placing followers foremost in the leader’s plans

Leader behaviors

Mentoring behaviors

Empowerment behaviors

Team building behaviors

Citizenship behaviors

Serves

Others

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Principles of Ethical Leadership

Leader’s shall –

adhere to principles of distributive justice

Leader behaviors

All subordinates are treated in an equal manner

In special treatment/special consideration situations, grounds for differential treatment are clear, reasonable, and based on sound moral values

Ethical leaders are concerned with issues of fairness and justice; they place issues of fairness at the center of their decision making

Shows

Justice

Ethical leaders are concerned (Northouse, 2001) about issues of fairness and justice. They make it a top priority to treat all of their subordinates in an equal manner. Justice demands that leaders place issues of fairness at the center of their decision making.

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Principles of Ethical Leadership

Principles of Ethical Leadership

Leaders:

Are not deceptive

Tell the truth with a balance of openness and candor while monitoring what is appropriate to disclose in a particular situation

Honest leaders are authentic but also sensitive to the feelings and attitudes of others

Leader behaviors

Don’t promise what you can’t deliver

Don’t suppress obligations

Don’t evade accountability

Don’t accept “survival of the fittest” pressures

Acknowledge and reward honest behavior in the organization

Manifests

Honesty

Principles of Ethical Leadership

Concern for common good means leaders cannot impose their will on others; they search for goals that are compatible with everyone.

Ethical Leaders & Followers

take into account purposes of everyone in the group, and

reach out beyond their own mutually defined goals to wider community

Leader behaviors

Takes into account purposes of everyone in the group

Is attentive to interests of the community and culture

Does not force others or ignore intentions of others

Builds

Community

How Does the Ethical Leadership Perspective Work?

Strengths

Criticisms

Application

Strengths

Provides a body of timely research on ethical issues

Provides direction on how to think about ethical leadership and how to practice it

Suggests that leadership is not an amoral phenomenon and that ethics should be considered as integral to the broader domain of leadership

Highlights principles and virtues that are important in ethical leadership development

Criticisms

Lacks a strong body of traditional research findings to substantiate the theoretical foundations

Relies heavily on writings of just a few individuals that are primarily descriptive and anecdotal in nature, and are strongly influenced by personal opinion and a particular worldview

Application

Can be applied to individuals at all levels of organization and in all walks of life

Because leadership has a moral dimension, being a leader demands awareness on our part of the way our ethics defines our leadership

Managers and leaders can use information on ethics to understand themselves and strengthen their own leadership

Leaders can use ethical principles as benchmarks for their own behavior

Leaders can learn that leader-follower relationship is central to ethical leadership

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