Chapter 16

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Human Resources and Organizational Behaviour
HROB 2010
Casey Cosgrove

Chapter 16: Leadership Ethics Ethics Defined • Ethics is concerned with the kinds of values and morals an individual or a society finds desirable or appropriate • Ethics is concerned with the virtuousness of individuals and their motives • Ethical theory provides a system of rules or principles that guide us in making decisions about what is 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 leaders do and who leaders are • It is concerned with the nature of leaders behavior, and with their virtuousness • Ethical issues are either implicitly or explicitly involved • Choices leaders make and how they respond in a given circumstance are informed and directed by their ethics Ethical Theories • Ethical theories can be thought of as falling within two broad domains: ◦ Theories about leaders conduct ◦ Theories about leaders character • Ethical theories when applied to leadership are about both the actions of leaders and who they are as people • Ethical theories that deal with the conduct of leaders are in turn divided into two kinds: ◦ Theories that stress the consequences of leaders actions ◦ Those that emphasize the duty or rules governing leaders actions • Teleological theories try to answer questions about right and wrong by focusing on whether a person's conduct will produce desirable consequences ◦ The question “what is right?” is answered by looking at results or outcomes ◦ In effect, the consequences of an individual's action determine the goodness or badness of a particular behavior • There are three different approaches to making decisions regarding moral conduct: ◦ Ethical Egoism ◦ Utilitarianism ◦ Altruism • Ethical Egoism states that a person should act so as to create the greatest good for herself or himself ◦ Aleader with this orientation would take a job or career that he or she selfishly enjoys ◦ Self-interest is an ethical stance closely related to transactional leadership theories ◦ It is common in some business contexts in which a company and its employees make decisions to achieve its goals of maximizing profits • Utilitarianism states we should behave so as to create the greatest good for the greatest number ◦ The morally correct action is the action that maximizes social benefits while minimizing social coasts • Altruism is an approach that suggest that actions are moral if their primary purpose is to promote the best interests of others ◦ Aleader may be called on to act in the interests of others, even when it runs contrary to his or her own self-interests ◦ Authentic transformational leadership is based on altruistic principles • The deontological perspective focuses on the actions of the leader and his or her moral obligations and responsibilities to do the right thing ◦ Aleaders actions are moral if the leader has a moral right to do them, if the actions do not infringe on others rights, and if the actions further the moral rights of others • Virtue-based theories focus on who leaders are as people ◦ In this perspective, virtues are rooted in the heart of the individual and in the individual's disposition ◦ It is believed that virtues and moral abilities are not innate but can be acquired and learned through practice ◦ People can be taught by their families and communities to be morally appropriate human beings ◦ Virtue-based ethics is about being and becoming a good, worthy human being ◦ This theory maintains that virtues are present in one's disposition ◦ By telling the truth, people become truthful; by giving to the poor, people become benvolent; by being fair to others, people become just ◦ Our virtues are derived from our actions, and our actions manifest our virtues Certrality of Ethics to Leadership • The influence dimension of leadership requires the leader to have an impact on the lives of those being led ◦ To make change in other people carries with it an enormous ethical burden and responsibility ◦ Since leaders usually have more power and control than followers, they also have more responsibility to be sensitive to how their leadership affects followers live • Leaders have ethical responsibilities to treat followers with dignity and respect – as human beings with unique identities • This “Respect for people” demands that leaders be sensitive to followers own interests, needs and conscientious concerns • Leaders have a special responsibility, because the nature of their leadership puts them in a special position in which they have a greater opportunity to influence others in significant ways • Ethics is central to leadership, and leaders help to establish and reinforce organizational values • The values promoted by the leader have a significant impact on the values exhibited by the organization • Ethics is central to leadership because of the nature of the process of influence, the need to engage followers in accomplishing mutual goals, and the the impact leaders have on the organization's values Heifetz's Perspective on Ethical Leadership • Ronald Heifetz (1994) has formulated a unique approach to ethical leadership • His approach emphasizes how leaders help followers to confront conflict and to address conflict by effecting changes • Heifetz perspective is related to ethical leadership because it deals with values, the values of workers and the values of the organizations and communities in which they work • According to Hiefetz, leadership involves the use of authority to help followers deal with the conflicting values that emerge in rapidly changing work environments and social cultures • It is an ethical perspective because it speaks directly to the values of workers • For Heifetz (1994), leaders must use authority to mobilize people to face tough issues • The leader provides a “holding environment” in which there is trust, nurturance, and empathy • Followers can feel safe to confront hard problems • Leaders use authority to get people to pay attention to the issues, to act as a reality test regarding information, to manage and frame issues, to orchestrate conflicting perspectives and to facilitate decision making Burn's Perspective on Ethical Leadership • Burn's theory of transformational leadership places a strong emphasis on followers needs, values and morals • Transformational leadership involves attempts by leaders to move follower to higher standards of moral responsibility • This emphasis sets transformational leadership apart from most other approaches to leadership because it clearly states that leadership has a moral dimension • Burn's (1978), perspective argues that it is important for leaders to engage themselves with followers and help them in their personal struggles regarding conflicting values • He states that 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 as liberty, justice, and equality • Burn's position on leadership as a morally uplifting process has not been without its critics • His perspective is unique in that it makes ethics the central characteristic of the leadership process Principles of Ethical Leadership • These principles provide a foundation for the development of sound ethical leadership: ◦ Respect ◦ Service ◦ Justice ◦ Honesty ◦ Communit
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