Treatise of Great Ethical Leadership
There has never been a greater need in society for great ethical leadership. The most...
I believe that great ethical leadership means having utmost integrity and honesty.
This means that great ethical leaders s...
I believe that great ethical leadership is iterative.
This means that great ethical leadership should involve listening to...
Reference List
Brooks, C 2014, ‘Lecturer 2’, The Ethical Leader 90374, Learning Materials on Blackboard,
Northeastern Univ...
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My treatise of strong ethical leadership


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This treatise was my final paper for Ethical Leadership at Northeastern University, MA.

It is by no means exhaustive of my beliefs about ethical leadership but gives a broad overview of what is important.

I hope it inspires you to pursue great ethical leadership.


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My treatise of strong ethical leadership

  1. 1. Treatise of Great Ethical Leadership There has never been a greater need in society for great ethical leadership. The most pressing question though is what do we do about it? How can we set principles that aim to define great ethical leadership? In this treatise of Great Ethical Leadership, I propose the guiding principles for great ethical leadership. I believe, “that great power involves great responsibility” – Franklin D. Roosevelt This means that great ethical leaders must be aware of the power that they have to do- good. Roosevelt, in his undelivered address to America said it was the “responsibility” of the nation to stand up to evil because they had the power to do so. Singer proposes that, “if it is in our power to prevent something very bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral significance, we ought to do it.” Obviously, taken too far this principle can turn into ends-justify-the-means radical consequentialism; but great ethical leaders have to be aware of their power and the inherent responsibility to do-good. Therefore I will, be mindful of my day-to-day actions as a leader because I understand that is not just authority that gives power but influence by proximity that can have profound effects on others (Dudley 2010). I will endeavour to do-good when it is within my means and not be complicit in, “aiding and abetting…the violation of human rights.” I will also remain aware that any action I take will have ripple effects and has the potential to create more problems than not acting; like Toms Shoes. Therefore I will carefully consider each decision I make in terms of the bigger picture. Discerning when to use power like a lion for compliance and to, “fend off the wolves” – such as other things that threaten employees and the company – and when to act wise and cunning like a fox. I believe that great ethical leaders treat every human as having intrinsic value. This means that great ethical leaders should act in such a way that employees feel like their life matters. This involves giving recognition and celebrating the good in people. Bob Chapman from Barry-Wehmiller argues that, “if organisations embraced the responsibility to send their employees home with a sense of fulfilment and that they do matter. They will be better husbands [and] better wives….many of the issues we face in this country will dissipate.” It is not the government that will change the world; it is business. Chapman proposes that to know your life matters, is the most important thing an employer can do to change the world. “We have been paying people for their hands for years. They would have given us their heads and their hearts, if only we learned how to ask.” Therefore I will, recognise and celebrate the good in others around me; as I realise that this truly can change the world.
  2. 2. I believe that great ethical leadership means having utmost integrity and honesty. This means that great ethical leaders should have, “moral consistency” as it is important to have a higher level of integrity as a leader. This is true because your actions are public and a leader’s credibility rests on their integrity. Once credibility has been lost, trust is hard to rebuild and leading becomes ineffective. Solving problems as a leader can be problematic; even if the outcome does the greatest good. Business that run “campaign[s] to raise money for the homeless…may [only] be doing so to sell more of its product or to improve its public image.” Once these actions become public trust can never really be regained as each future action is questioned for its integrity and ethics. The pressure and stress of leadership can often be intense; isolation, complexity and loss of touch with reality often cause leaders often lose their personal moral compass. The solution to loss of integrity and honesty is this: to be held accountable for your actions. This involves two things; systems need to be in place to make leaders actions transparent and other co-workers and leaders need to look out for the psychological wellbeing of each other. Therefore I will, surround myself with people who can hold me accountable and look after my psychological health. Where there is a possibility of unethical behaviour – even though small – I will design systems that make every action transparent. I believe that great ethical leaders make follower’s feel safe. This means that great ethical leaders should sacrifice themselves and their needs, so that others may benefit. Simon Sinek at the 2014 TED conference asked the question; why is it that, “in the military they give medals to people who are willing to sacrifice themselves so that others may gain [and] in business we give bonuses to people who sacrifice others so that we may gain.” Sinek goes on to argue that everyone has the capacity to be a kind and sacrificial leader; it is all about the environment in which we work that either. Trust and cooperation are all beneficial in a hostile environment, they make us feel safe and that we belong to an organisation or group. This is where great ethical leadership matter, “it sets the tone” for every interaction within an organisation. If employees trust a leader and feel as if they belong, they will, “combine [their] strengths and work tirelessly to face the dangers outside the organisation.” Therefore I will choose to, “take the risk first” to create an atmosphere of safety and belonging in every organisation I work. This will ensure organic cooperation and trust is created with employees as they see I am protecting them from threats and change outside the organisation.
  3. 3. I believe that great ethical leadership is iterative. This means that great ethical leadership should involve listening to employees, stakeholders and customers; and after evaluation, improvement or change. Learning how to make iterative changes was most effective for Patricia Woertz, when appointed CEO of Archer Daniels Midland took the first 100 days to meet over 4,000 employees, trying to find out where improvements could be made by listening. This made a fantastic first impression with staff, building a relationship of trust and cooperation, ensuring her future success as a leader. Iterative learning requires us to also use critical thinking, to remain aware of our mistakes as great ethical leaders; move on, learn from them and put changes into action for the future. Therefore I will, endeavour to continually listen and learn from others; so that I may build relationships based on trust; putting into action what I have learnt, one small change at a time. I believe that great ethical leadership creates inspired followers. This means that great ethical leaders should give employees, “magnificent challenges” with the expectation of great work. This is why people would put up with Steve Jobs, because they, “did the best work of their career” when they were around him. Other factors in motivating inspired followers are: autonomy, mastery and purpose. This requires giving opportunities to have autonomy over how and when employees achieve tasks; within the required timeframe. Opportunities to “master” and develop new skills; and, to find greater meaning within the work they are doing. Coupled with the leader’s personal credibility that is built on a relationship of trust, this creates truly inspired followers. As Gini points out, leaders need followers in order to achieve goals of the organisation. Inspired leadership is therefore about good stewardship and serving the needs of others. Therefore I will, create opportunities for autonomy, mastery and purpose; and expect “magnificent” work from employees and co-workers, as I know this is what uncovers inspired followers. Remaining true to these principles of great ethical leadership, I believe will have the greatest impact on an organisation; creating employees that will strive to give their best because they are truly fulfilled, safe and have opportunities for recognition. This is my treatise of great ethical leadership.
  4. 4. Reference List Brooks, C 2014, ‘Lecturer 2’, The Ethical Leader 90374, Learning Materials on Blackboard, Northeastern University, 31 March 2014, viewed 6 July, 2014. Chapman, B 2012, Truly Human Leadership: Bob Chapman, TEDxScottAFB, viewed 26 July 2014, <>. Ciulla, J Martin, C & Solomon, R (eds) 2014, Honest Work: A Business Ethics Reader, Oxford University Press, New York. Dudley, D 2010, Everyday Leadership, TEDxToronto, viewed 21 July 2014, <>. Elder, L & Paul, R 2014, Becoming a Critic Of Your Thinking, Foundation for Critical Thinking, viewed 6 July 2014, < thinking/478>. George, B 2011, Why Leaders Lose Their Way, Harvard Business School, viewed 28 July 2014, <>. Herold, D & Fedor, D 2008, Change the Way you Lead Change, Stanford Business Books, CA. Kawasaki, G 2011, 12 Lessons Steve Jobs Taught Guy Kawasaki, Silicon Valley Bank, viewed 26 July 2014, <>. Peters, G & Woolley, J 2014, Franklin D. Roosevelt: ‘Undelivered Address Prepared for Jefferson Day, April 13, 1945’, The American Presidency Project, viewed 21 July 2014, << pid=16602>. Pink, D 2009, The puzzle of motivation,, viewed 28 July 2014, <>. Sinek, S 2014, Why good leaders make you feel safe, TED2014, viewed 28 July 2014, < 98268>.