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Ethics in Leadership: Navigating Dilemmas and the We Organization Scandal

Ethics act as a moral compass, indicating what is right and wrong. Maintaining moral principles might be difficult, but doing so has many benefits, including building integrity and trust. We delve into the concept of ethical dilemmas, the difference between bad and unethical decisions, the relationship between ethical correctness and popularity, the individual’s responsibility in decision-making, and factors influencing unethical choices in our exploration of the field of ethics, particularly in leadership during a crisis.

Short Answer Questions

  1. What is an Ethical Dilemma?

When someone finds themselves in a situation where moral ideals are at odds with one another, it can be not easy to decide what would be the most morally just course of conduct. This is known as an ethical dilemma (Sobočan et al., 2019). The decision-maker must navigate a complicated web of values, responsibilities, and duties, and there are frequently no black-or-white answers.

  1. Should All Bad Decisions be Considered Unethical?

Even though making bad decisions might have unfavorable effects, not all of them require unethical behavior. Some poor choices may not be the result of willful disdain for moral values but rather of ignorance, incomplete knowledge, or unanticipated events.

  1. Are Ethically Correct Decisions the Same as Popular Decisions?

Popular decisions may not necessarily equate to ethically sound decisions. Popularity is a relative concept that a number of variables, such as political considerations, social standards, and public opinion, can impact. Popular or practical may not necessarily coincide with what is morally right.

  1. Is it Up to the Person Making the Decision to Determine if that Decision is Ethically Correct or Not?

People are essential in assessing the morality of the choices they make. On the other hand, outside frameworks, social conventions, and moral principles might offer helpful direction. An ethical evaluation that is more thorough can be achieved by consulting reliable advisors and taking the bigger picture into account while making decisions.

  1. Factors Influencing Unethical Decisions

Even though ethics is clearly defined as doing the “right thing,” people might give in to many influences that cause them to make immoral actions. There are three primary factors:

  1. Pressure and Stress: Situations with high stakes or extreme pressure can erode ethical judgment because people tend to put short-term gains ahead of long-term effects.
  2. Lack of Accountability: The temptation for decision-makers to act unethically may grow when they believe there is no accountability or consequence.
  3. Conflicts of Interest: When personal interests collide with professional obligations, judgment can be impaired, and decisions that prioritize profit above morality are made.

Ethical Case Study: The WE Organization Scandal

Main Ethical Dilemma

The perceived conflict of interest surrounding Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government’s choice to award a sizable contract to the WE Charity, an organization with strong ties to Trudeau’s family (the “WE organization”), is the central ethical conundrum in the WE Organization scandal. The question of whether Trudeau’s actions were motivated by a sincere desire to address pandemic-related issues or if personal connections gave him undue influence raises ethical questions and the possibility of partiality.

Different Ethical Perspectives

Consequentialism (Trudeau’s Perspective): From a consequentialist perspective, Trudeau can contend that the choice to work with the WE Charity was motivated by the possibility of success, such as effectively assisting kids impacted by the pandemic. Even if there were personal ties involved, the decision’s overall positive outcome would be the main consideration.

Deontologism (Critics’ Perspective): Deontological critics may address the matter by highlighting the obligation to act morally and impartially (Bruns, 2021). They could contend that Trudeau’s conduct violated the obligation of fairness and transparency, making the choice unethical regardless of any prospective benefits.

Lessons for Future Leaders

Transparency and Accountability: The WE crisis emphasizes how crucial accountability and openness are in leadership. The open exchange of ideas and the unbiased, conflict-free decision-making process should be the top priorities for future leaders.

Ethical Decision-Making Frameworks: Leaders must acquaint themselves with many ethical ideas and frameworks for making decisions. Leaders who are aware of consequentialism, deontology, and other ethical philosophies are better able to assess their behavior and foresee moral conundrums.

In conclusion, ethical leadership necessitates a sophisticated comprehension of predicaments, the differentiation between immoral and morally dubious choices, and the recognition that moral correctness is not the same as popularity. The controversy surrounding the WE Organization is a relevant case study that sheds light on the difficulties involved in making moral decisions and provides insightful guidance on how future leaders can approach such issues with honesty and accountability.


‘WE organization’ scandal summary:

Bruns, A. (2021). The Paradox of Deontology (Doctoral dissertation, University of Leeds).

Sobočan, A. M., Bertotti, T., & Strom-Gottfried, K. (2019). Ethical considerations in social work research. European Journal of Social Work22(5), 805-818.


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