Ethical Leadership Essay
The term ethics comes from the Greek word ethos - Ethical Leadership Essay introduction. “Ethics are moral beliefs and rules about right and wrong. ” “Someone’s ethics are the moral principles about right and wrong behavior which they believe in. ” “Ethics is the study of questions about what is morally right and wrong. ” The definitions indicate that the term ethics has a multidimensional nature that transcends ordinary descriptions. Its import and meaning are profound. (Collins, 1989) Ethics is the first post of spirituality. An atheist can also be a man of ethics. An ethical individual need not be spiritual.
But a spiritual individual has got to be ethical. Who is an ethical individual and what is ethical leadership? In each segment of the society, we require capable leaders and only those individuals whose ethical base is sound and solid can be such leaders. What you do is not important; how you do, what you do is indeed important. An ethical individual does right things at the right time. He generally does not have any motivated desires. He is not interested in short terms gains, by the wrong approach. He wishes to travel through the royal road, not through crooked gullies.
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An ethical individual works and surrenders for a right cause, but it is a dynamic surrender. The cause shall call upon him, suffering or no-suffering matters not for him. Welfare of the group, well-being of the society is more important to him than is selfish considerations. The most ethical leader that I have come across in my life is the Branch Manger of a Commercial Bank. Let me call him X. In the 1980s, banking transactions were mostly done manually and computerization was non-existent. I still remember that day, when I went to the Bank to purchase a draft in the usual course of business.
I have been the customer of that bank for well over 5 years, and issuance of a draft normally took about 30 minutes. But what a surprise! I got the draft exactly in 3 minutes. The Clerk in charge of the drafts counter told me, “Sir, we have a new boss. Yesterday, we had a staff meeting. Many issues related to customer service were discussed and the procedures have been streamlined. You will continue to get bank drafts within 3 minutes now. ” I thought I must meet the new Branch Manager, X. He was quick to get up from his seat to greet me, with the genuine smile of a good human being.
It was not the typical ‘switched-on’ and ‘switched-off’ business smile! My attention was drawn to a prominently displayed notice board, hung at the conspicuous place in his cabin. The notice was, “Your smoking is injurious to my health. Please avoid smoking! ” There were two more customers sitting in front of him, but astonishingly he attended to all of us in such a manner as if he was paying exclusive attention each one of us. He made us feel important. During his three years tenure in the Branch, he became talk of the town.
Integrity was his forte. He did not indulge in corrupt practices overtly or covertly. He refused politely, but firmly the presents brought to him by the important customers on the eve of New Year. When he declined to accept my present of a brass flower vase, I did not feel bad. Rather I felt proud of the young man. It was ethical leadership in the truest sense of then term in a commercial set up. The most corrupt individual that I have come across was also a Manager of a Co-operative Bank. He was a master swindler. Corrupt at every step.
He had engaged his various loan customers for fulfilling his personal needs. The farmer, to whom he had financed to establish a dairy unit, supplied him free milk everyday. In the transport sector, the underhand commission for sanctioning loans was fixed by him at 5% of the invoice value of the vehicle. During weekends, he went on sightseeing and pleasure trips with his family in the vehicles provided to him by the customers. Even for dropping his school-going children, he had made arrangements with his loan customer. He often attended cocktail parties hosted in his ‘honor’ by the customers.
He celebrated the birthdays of his children lavishly and invited most of his top customers, who brought costly gifts. He was a man of doubtful moral character as well. He owned a car and it was strongly believed that the driver’s monthly salary was paid by a factory-owner, who had availed huge credit facilities from the Bank. I am a businessman. When I compare my ethical life with that of the above two Branch Managers of banking institutions, I regret sometimes about the inevitability and compromises that I had to make, and businessmen like me were compelled to make.
Each businessman wants his business to prosper through fair means. Basically most of them are honest. But when a particular business transaction or business contract needs to be done quickly and procedural red-tape, the dam of rules and regulations, obstructs the process, we need to resort to shortcuts to get the job done. When an honest man is at the top, we have no problems. Problems are created by administrators who interpret the rules. And when their self-interest is involved-well, that which can not be cured, must be endured!
The motivations, personal characteristics and the leadership style of leaders influencing their ethical behavior. No country, no society can achieve prosperity, unless the people are basically sound, industrious and ethical and at the same time basic conditions are created for the people to become basically sound, industrious and ethical. Unless something tangible is done in this regard, the world is heading for a spiritual disaster, moral and ethical doom. The combustible younger generation is getting the wrong message in every sphere of life.
Shirking responsibility and buttering those in power and authority has become the way of life. The core values that governed the life of the society have become jokes of the modern world. Observe carefully the contemporary cultural trends and attitudes. You find scandals galore in politics and business. They work hand in glove to the detriment of the common man, the taxpayer. Added to this calamitous situation, is the dormant and submissive press which toes the dotted line. Where are the national heroes? They are to be seen in the form of rock stars, professional athletes, with or without moral and ethical values.
Sex-symbols, those who do semi-naked entertainment shows, businessmen who devise innovative ways to rob the pockets of the common man, are worshipped as heroes by the combustible younger generation. The sex-exploits, then divorce stories of ‘men and women of statuses’ in the society hog the limelight and reported as the main stories, in newspapers, television channels and magazines. Within the short span of their power-tenure, say five years, it is common knowledge that the politician or those in the top administration make such huge fortune, cash as well as in investment in property.
Perhaps their next seven generations are unable to spend the interest earnings generated by the huge wealth. The people of any country, including the highly materialistic USA, do love to have an ethical leader. Who is such a leader? Trevino, Hartman & Brown (2000) share that “a reputation for ethical leadership rests upon two essential pillars: perceptions of you as both a moral person and a moral manager. ” (Paragraph 2) The definition begins with the executive being a moral person that has positive character traits (i. e. ntegrity), behaviors (i. e. concern for people) and decision making skills (i. e. objective). Also, the definition stresses the importance of leaders communicating values by being role models and developing a management system that consistently rewards acceptable behavior and disciplines unacceptable behavior. Ethical leaders provide the guiding force to move an organization toward greater accountability by matching words about values with visible actions that demonstrate respect for every employee (Trevino, Hartman & Brown, 2000).
The core values are overlooked by leaders, whether political, business, or administration, because they hanker after materialistic gains, a cut throat competition to acquire more and more. They neither have competence or character. They are least connected to the welfare of the society. Their mind and heart do not respond to the imbalance and misery in the society. They are just interested in their own success, no matter how they achieve it. “But success landmarks are internal, not external. They mark changes in you –in your thinking and attitudes—that are reflected outwardly in how you act. (Maxwell 1997, p. 145) Ethical leadership does not arise out of a social vacuum. Rather, it follows from a lifestyle of a leader who considers his/her role as vital to the moral health of the organization. Yes, some leaders are not comfortable with the idea of being role models but they are ones regardless of their feelings.
This is the essence of an ethical leader. Maxwell (1997) notes that to build trust, a leader must exemplify competence, connection, and character (p. 58). ” The Seven Cs of Success Morris (1994, p. 86) has developed seven principles of success that are quite useful in helping individuals to formulate new goals for their personal and professional lives. 1. We need a clear conception of what we want, a vivid vision, a goal or set of goals powerfully imagined. 2. We need a strong confidence that we can attain our goals. 3. We need a focused concentration on what it takes to reach our goal. 4. We need a stubborn consistency in pursuing our vision, a determined persistence in thought and action. 5. We need emotional commitment to the importance of what we’re doing, and to the people with whom we’re doing it. . We need a good character to guide us and keep us on a proper course. 7. We need a capacity to enjoy the process along the way. A quick rundown of the components of ethical leadership: communication, quality, collaboration, succession planning and tenure. (Five Standards, 2003) Conclusion Honesty is the foundation of ethical leadership. When an individual is honest it is easy to deal with him. One feels confident. “Whatever virtue is desired, moral philosophers going back to Aristotle have emphasized that it must become a habit.
Just as musicians develop musical ability by playing an instrument, people become virtuous by practicing virtue. Ethical behavior is not something that can be held in reserve for momentous issues; it must be a constant companion. ”(Lashway, 1996) Even in the field of education, political interference has become the dominant factor. This is being watched by the younger generation. They get wrong ideals at the formative stage of their life. Leaders must foster trust and integrity, whether they are in government, business or in community.