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Ethical Leadership: How a Leader’s Moral Stance Determines Their Ethics

Recognizing the complexities of moral behavior, distinguishing between right and wrong, and forming one’s unique moral code are all crucial components of ethical leadership. Morality is defined as a moral code of a society or an individual, which guides a person’s conduct (Shaw, 2017). Moral leadership is referred to as a leader’s behavior which exhibits superior values or virtues, unselfishness, and self-discipline. It comprises offering a good example for other people regarding the wrongness or rightness of particular actions. It illustrates the practice of integrity as well as completing obligations, functioning as a selfless paragon, and never taking advantage of other people. With corporate crises related to leaders’ lack of morality appearing incessantly, experts have focused on the past leadership study putting a lot of attention to leaders’ attributes and actions while disregarding leaders’ morality. Ethical leadership, which stresses leaders’ values, has garnered scholarly attention. Several studies have demonstrated that moral leadership positively correlates with positive worker behavior like corporate citizenship conduct that can be considered ethical behavior. There are also a number of ethical issues along with moral challenges which arise out of the interaction of employers and workers within a corporation, comprising the issue of discrimination (Shaw, 2017). Anyone may take on the role of moral leader because it is not dependent on one’s position or social standing. That is to say, moral leadership is favorably associated with moral pro-organizational conduct. Moral philosophy or ethics is an extensive field of inquiry which discourses a fundamental question most people think about. Moral philosophers and ethical thinkers desire to better understand the concept of morality, characteristics of good moral reasoning, the meaning of the basic concepts of morality, ways moral judgments are justified, and the properties or principles which differentiate right deeds from wrong (Shaw, 2017). The question is posed concerning how a leader’s moral perspective or stance positively influences or determines their ethics in a company.

Leaders who demonstrate strong ethical ideals, selflessness, as well as integrity, are referred to as moral leaders. In ethical leadership, decision-making is guided by a moral theory and a moral goal. To inspire others, leaders with a moral stance seek to lead others by offering an ethical example of self-discipline, compassion, and responsibility. Also, a leader’s moral reasoning ought to be logically compatible with his or her non-moral and moral beliefs. Moral leaders must avoid inconsistency in order to be ethical (Shaw, 2017). This implies ethical leaders should not make an exception of themselves, judging things they are allowed to do while judging or condemning others for doing the very similar thing. (Shaw, 2017). A healthy corporate culture is built on a foundation of ethical conduct in the workplace. People are more motivated and perform better when a company has a clear code of ethics in place. Moral leadership replaces ethical leadership in the workplace. Ethical leadership in professional ethics stresses honesty, trustworthiness, and reliability, among other things. Leaders with a moral stance do not misuse their position of authority; rather, they are fair, unbiased, and willing to put the organization’s interests ahead of their own. (Shaw, 2017). In line with this, morality necessitates that leaders sacrifice their individual short-term interests to benefit a business. This can in turn enhance brand reputation, increase productivity, and promote worker engagement. Customers are more likely to remain loyal to a company whose leaders uphold its core values as well as mission statements by acting ethically.

Some people believe that moral judgments must be based on facts. A good leader should gather as much important information as possible before making any judgments. Leaders with a robust moral stance can influence their followers to act ethically on a group level (Shaw, 2017). Also, leaders can overlook the ethical consequences of their choices because they are working on corporate goals and not perceiving things from a broader view. Ethical leaders ought to meet business goals, be team players, and conform to corporate norms, which may at times result in ethical leaders engaging in unethical behavior (Shaw, 2017). Others will follow the lead and behave ethically if a leader serves as a role model. Ethical leaders can favorably affect many others by providing people with a set of behaviors that they may embrace for the greater good. A leader’s credibility and reputation are directly tied to his or her ability to lead ethically. The road to leadership is a lengthy one. A leader’s reputation can be severely tarnished if they act unethically, knocking them out of the A league. Self-esteem can be damaged by unethical activity, which results in an unsatisfactory end and a wasted chance to fully express one’s potential. Organizational managers tend to experience role conflicts between what is expected of them as ethical individuals, efficient, and profit-minded individuals (Shaw, 2017).In line with this, the tone of a group is determined by its leaders. The leader’s ideals, moral code, and attributes shape the group, regardless of whether it is a company, a political or religious organization, athletic teams, or a family. Honesty, as well as accountability, are the foundations of ethical leadership. Ethical leaders treat people with justice, honesty, along with respect, both inside and outside of the business. Additionally, they prioritize the organization’s success before their personal gain or egos (Shaw, 2017). During the decision-making process, they also seek strategies to limit harm to others. When leaders have a strong moral stance, it is possible to develop confidence, credibility, and respect in leadership and the company as a whole when they act ethically.

Leaders with a moral stance are guided by the principles and ethics they have acquired through life’s experiences and education. Integrity, inclusion, respect, fairness, accountability, and service are only some examples of leadership morals. Self-aware ethical leaders are not intimidated by others; they also understand that leading is not really about them and not the center of attention (Shaw, 2017). Serving others is at the heart of a leader with a moral stance. Leaders should relinquish their individual freedoms to further organizational objectives (Shaw, 2017). The focus is not on a leader’s own preferences—ethical leadership is about valuing others and putting their needs ahead of one’s own. Leaders do not try to force their own ideas on others; they consider the values of others. Leaders with a sturdy moral stance can ethically converse with and comprehend the thoughts and feelings of others. A brighter future is possible when their ideals, as well as the values of other groups, are brought together. When people desire something different, they look for ethical leadership. Change is not a worry for ethical leaders. One can see that moral leaders have the bravery and commitment to ethically put their ideas into action. Getting everyone to agree with one’s point of view or perspective is an uncommon occurrence. Most people believe that moral leadership results in better company results, but very few believe senior leaders consistently demonstrate those qualities. Pressure to meet unrealistic business goals, as well as deadlines, is a major cause of unethical business conduct for senior leaders (Shaw, 2017). In line with this, to be an ethical leader, one must be tolerant of others with differing opinions. A moral leader understands that he or she cannot win over everyone. In addition, moral leaders are aware of the dangers of stoking divides. Some young leaders tend to feel strong organizational pressures or receive explicit instructions to do things they believe are illegal, unethical, or sleazy (Shaw, 2017). Ethical leaders try their utmost to morally inspire as many individuals as possible to take part in constructive change for the betterment by delivering a compelling message. Everyone may aim to be a moral leader in their own right, but the effort will pay off for leaders and people around them in more ways than they realize. To be ethical, a leader must know who they are and what they stand for before they can truly help anyone else.

Ethical and moral leaders may influence others to follow their example by, first and foremost, living up to the standards they set for themselves. Leaders tend to face extreme pressure from the top organizational executives in order to comply with business norms and meet business goals (Shaw, 2017). Nonetheless, leadership based on ethics and morality avoids taking illegal or unethical shortcuts to get an advantage over their competitors. For them, there are no apologies or attempts to justify their faults. It is the duty of moral leaders to cultivate the talents of others instead of focusing on their own accomplishments. Leaders should relinquish some of their individual freedoms to further organizational objectives. Pressure to meet unrealistic business goals, as well as deadlines, is a major cause of unethical business conduct (Shaw, 2017). When the circumstance calls for it, leaders with a moral stance do not hesitate to act as ethical whistleblowers. As a result, moral leaders’ behaviors are service-oriented because of their underlying principles of justice and fairness. In addition, self-control, as well as social skills, are essential for ethical leaders. They work hard to get everyone on the same page and are frequently referred to as the group’s conscience. Leaders with a moral stance take responsibility, strive for excellence, and consider the implications of their actions before taking any action. Prejudice, bias, discrimination, and assigning blame are all avoided by ethical leaders. Ethical leaders have the ability to see the future and inspire others to follow suit. Introspective, they accept criticism as a catalyst for self-improvement and progress.

Moral reasoning ought to be supported by both evidence and reasons, instead of solely basing them on personal or social preference, sentiment, or emotion (Shaw, 2017). A leader who reasons morally can benefit consumers and workers and lead to an organization’s overall success. It takes strong leadership abilities to contribute to developing a healthy ethical culture inside a corporation. Ethical leaders may assist investors in developing a positive impression of the organization’s quality and dependability. Consumers are more likely to remain loyal to a company if they perceive strong ethical leaders within the firm. When an organization has ethical executives at the helm, positive publicity is more likely to follow. When an organization’s leadership exemplifies integrity, vendors and partners will feel confident in their ability to trust them and collaborate effectively. In the short term, ethical leaders may assist in boosting employee morale and assisting them in feeling enthusiastic regarding their management as well as their jobs. It has the potential to enhance happiness and collaboration in a business, as well as make everyone enjoy their time at work. Current business scandals have renewed the interest of business leaders, society, and academics in ethics (Shaw, 2017). Ethical leadership can help prevent ethical dilemmas, corporate scandals, as well as ethical concerns from occurring. Organizations may also benefit from leaders with a moral stance by gaining more partnerships as well as customers, which can result in increased revenue. Through ethical leadership, workers can remain loyal to a company, resulting in a company’s long-term profitability.

To conclude, according to the field of ethics, moral behavior is defined as physical activity or attitude that is consistent with the values of a particular ethical system. When leaders set standards for ethical behavior—and explicitly empower staff to assist in enforcing those norms—they have the potential to influence hundreds and thousands of other individuals, inspiring as well as empowering them to behave more ethically too. Ethical leaders may also provide greater value to their organizations by influencing how people make decisions. Ethical leaders are role models of personal integrity who encourage others to do the same. Self-control and emotional intelligence are key skills for moral leaders, as is the capacity to recognize as well as respond compassionately to others’ cues. That said, leaders with a moral stance and ethical values bring significant short- and long-term advantages for both enterprises and individuals.


Shaw, W. H. (2017). Business ethics.


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