Ethics refer to the desirable and appropriate values and morals according to an individual or the society at large. Ethics deal with the purity of individuals and their intentions. Ethics serve as guidelines for analyzing “what is good or bad” in a specific scenario. Correlating ethics with leadership, we find that ethics is all about the leader’s identity and the leader’s role.
Ethical theories on leadership talk about two main things: (a) The actions and behaviour of leaders; and (b) the personality and character of leaders. It is essential to note that “Ethics are an essential to leadership”. A leader drives and influences the subordinates / followers to achieve a common goal, be it in case of team work, organizational quest, or any project. It is an ethical job of the leader to treat his subordinates with respect as each of them has unique personality. The ethical environment in an organization is built and developed by a leader as they have an influential role in the organization and due to the fact that leaders have an influence in developing the organizational values.
An effective and ethical leader has the following traits / characteristics:
Dignity and respectfulness: He respects others. An ethical leader should not use his followers as a medium to achieve his personal goals. He should respect their feelings, decision and values. Respecting the followers implies listening effectively to them, being compassionate to them, as well as being liberal in hearing opposing viewpoints. In short, it implies treating the followers in a manner that authenticate their values and beliefs.
Serving others: He serves others. An ethical leader should place his follower’s interests ahead of his interests. He should be humane. He must act in a manner that is always fruitful for his followers.
Justice: He is fair and just. An ethical leader must treat all his followers equally. There should be no personal bias. Wherever some followers are treated differently, the ground for differential treatment should be fair, clear, and built on morality.
Community building: He develops community. An ethical leader considers his own purpose as well as his followers’ purpose, while making efforts to achieve the goals suitable to both of them. He is considerate to the community interests. He does not overlook the followers’ intentions. He works harder for the community goals.
Honesty: He is loyal and honest. Honesty is essential to be an ethical and effective leader. Honest leaders can be always relied upon and depended upon. They always earn respect of their followers. An honest leader presents the fact and circumstances truly and completely, no matter how critical and harmful the fact may be. He does not misrepresent any fact.
It is essential to note that leadership is all about values, and it is impossible to be a leader if you lack the awareness and concern for your own personal values. Leadership has a moral and ethical aspect. These ethics define leadership. Leaders can use the above mentioned traits as yardsticks for influencing their own behaviour.