The Importance of Ethical Leadership (Essay)
Recently, there has been an increased interest in ethics role not only in the social life but also in the theory and practice of leadership. It is quite logical, as ethics in its essence contains certain rules for building interpersonal relations based on high moral principles. Many researchers see business organization as a living organism, the basis of which are people. Any organization eventually encounters various ethical problems. If the organizational management has the purpose of achieving high results, it should pay attention to business ethics. In the ratio of ethics to leadership, ethics concerns personality and the role of a leader.
It should be noted that ethics is a helpful instrument for leadership. It is not just a “patch and repair”, or an “identify and blame” enterprise, or an idealistic attitude (Gill, 2011). Ethics is a strong building program for organizations that want to be profitable and deserve approval. Therefore, it does not concern either financial profit or morality, but both (Gill, 2011). A leader influences subordinates to achieve a common goal, whether in the case of teamwork, organizational searches, or any other project. Ethical theories of leadership speak of two main things: leaders’ behavior and their character. Ethical work of the leader requires treating the subordinates with respect since each of them has a unique personality. It is thus evident that leaders play a significant role in their business organizations as that they affect corporate values and build moral climate.
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The role of the leader within organizational culture and ethics can be viewed from two perspectives. On the one hand, the behavior of the leader is a standard, which the subordinates have to follow. From this point of view, the leader’s behavior is a key to ethical or unethical activity of his team. On the other hand, organizational culture also gives the guide to action when the employee faces a moral dilemma (Johnson, 2017). It dictates the way of dealing with an ambiguous from the ethical point of view situation. Ethical business organizations provide their employees with ethical and professional codes as well as trainings on ethical behavior (Northouse, 2015). Thus, the responsibility for the moral development of the team is assigned to the leader.
The moral position, behavior, and personal qualities of the leader play an exceptional role in the formation of business ethics. The ethical leaders are supposed to analyze the value aspects of any problem facing the organization, as well as control their emotions and those of the surrounding people. In this regard, the leader of American engineering and construction corporation Bechtel Group considers that the implementation of such method of corporate governance as continuous improvement leads the company to long-term financial successes and provides it with a reputation of a reliable partner, whose quality of products and services does not cause doubts among consumers (Gill, 2011). This would be impossible without ethical leadership.
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The model of ethical leadership assumes that every effective and ethical leader influences others in such a way, that they, overcoming their own selfish interests, act for the benefit of the organization. The attention of the leader should focus on proper coordination of the energy of subordinates to achieve future results and create an atmosphere of trust by maintaining personal examples of the highest standards of quality in work (DuBrin, 2015). Each of the team, despite position or high status, should be ready to delegate authority to the colleagues, be open to critical self-assessment and peer review, and maintain discipline and tolerance under difficult conditions (Gill, 2011). The high efficiency of the team relies on mutual trust of its members, and only the multiplication of efforts and abilities of each person gives a synergetic effect in solving the most difficult problems.
The leader can create and maintain ethical business organization only when he or she is ready to effectively perform the functions of moral authority within the framework of the existing corporate culture. Any leader is primarily a person with a certain type of character, who sets own goals. Like anyone, he or she has certain ethical views, formed on the basis of personal experience. These ideas about what is good and what is bad can be changed under the influence of organizational ethics. The key to success lies in personal qualities such as a constant desire to improve, readiness for a positive and constructive influence on the events inside the corporation and around it, objectivity, diligence, enjoyment of work and an open expression of labor enthusiasm, sensitivity to the changes and new opening perspectives. Besides, it is essential to pay attention to those areas, where only experience and abilities of many allow to foresee the greatest opportunities for long-term investments as well as the creation of unique competitive advantages through innovations in industry (DuBrin, 2015). However, a person will be able to become a real leader of ethical corporation only when he or she propagates these qualities among people around them.
How it works:
In modern management, the role of the leader is no longer limited solely to the basic functions of management, such as planning, organization, motivation, and control. There are other important tasks: to lead, to be an assistant, and to establish moral guidelines (Northouse, 2015). Leadership traits combine formal and informal personality characteristics such as organizational skills, high professionalism, and the ability to work with people and positively influence them. It is also important to enable the followers to see that their leader is a person of high moral principles, knowledgeable not only of management but also of business ethics (Johnson, 2017). The ethical leader should have some psychological knowledge, usually including interpersonal skills. This person must understand that different people can respond in completely different ways to the same situations, orders, requests, or instructions. Successful ethical leaders respect view, decisions, and values of their employees. Respecting in turn requires effective listening, compassion, as well as being liberal with the opposite point of view. Ethical leaders treat all their employees equally, without personal affection; they develop teams and have to be attentive to their interests. Similarly, the leader should remember that any person is a part of society and thus consists of a system of public relations being its part and reflection. Therefore, no evaluation of the employee’s activity, personal qualities, and professionalism by the leader can be reliable and final as the employee is in constant development.
To sum up, ethical leadership bases on values and aims to create and implement effective management in compliance with the universal human values. The ethical leaders live by the rules of morality; their basic ethical principles rely on honesty, justice, respect, responsibility, openness, and professionalism, which are necessary for building and maintaining trustful, strong relations. The values and principles of leaders shape their culture, strengthen reputation in society, and help to create and maintain ethical business organizations. The method of leadership and behavior of employees in any business organization is interrelated. Therefore, the leaders need to realize that the absence of ethical component in their behavior can negatively affect the future development of their organizations.