Leadership: Trustworthiness and Ethical Stewardship

Topics: Leadership, Ethical leadership, Management Pages: 5 (1918 words) Published: December 3, 2012
Trustworthiness and Ethical Stewardship
The problem to be investigated is to address the relationship between “leadership behavior, perceptions about [a] leader’s trustworthiness, and the ethical duties” (Caldwell, Hayes & Long, 2012, p.497) associated with interdependent leadership style. As this author reflects upon the different leaders that he has served under over the past forty years, the good ones were epitomized by assigning responsibility and expecting subordinates to live up to those responsibilities, keep their word, and being congruent in keeping their own. On the other hand, the worst leaders were characterized by being unfaithful in keep their word, appearing not to care about those that worked for them, in being mediocre in their jobs, and tolerating mediocrity in others. This author realizes that principles are not established by individual experience, but the findings of Caldwell, Hayes, and Long, among others, empirically support the subjective experience of the author. Ethical Stewardship

The idea of ethical stewardship is presented in Caldwell et al. (2010), who indicate that there are leaders who strive to “maximize long-term wealth creation” through “creating relationships that maximize stakeholder ownership and commitment” (p.501). Ryan, Buchholtz & Kolb (2010) reviewed research drawing from stewardship theory and “its assumptions of executive good will and firm-interest-maximizing motivation” (p. 681) in discussing relationships between CEOs and corporate boards. This is consistent with the author’s own experience – good leaders are ethical leaders. As the leader establishes a strong personal relationship, they exert a positive influence on followers to commit and remain motivated to the leaders’ goals and focus. Those leaders, who were most influential and able to call on the time, dedication, and commitment of the author, seemed to have a style of serving together, rather than a me-first attitude (Block, 1993). Poor leaders, however, instead of catching the follower in their own slip-stream, seem especially unmotivating and detrimental in their impact on their organization, and their teams. Karnes reflects that his research showed that “lack of leadership . . . disintegrat[es the] employer-employee relationship” (2009, p. 189), which has also been demonstrated in the authors experience. Trustworthiness

As the author pondered on the meaning of trust, and what constitutes trustworthy behavior, he identified individuals that he felt were implicitly trustworthy according to his own “mediating lens” (Primeaux, Karn & Caldwell, 2003, Caldwell et al., 2009), and those that he does not trust. Those that the author finds most trustworthy scored well on the three-factor model of trustworthiness presented by Mayer et al. (1995). To be trustworthy one must first have the ability to do what is expected, to the level that is expected. Secondly, one must have the integrity to live up to the standards one is expected to live up to. Lastly, one must benevolently desire the good of the person one is serving, even above one’s own benefit. This author had not considered this last factor in his own ruminations, but when reflecting upon two people that he highly respects, and trusts, he found that this factor identified that elusive difference as to why he trusted one just that much more than the other. From the author’s subjective experience, those leaders who best fostered growth and development of their organization and people were also included on his list of trustworthy individuals. Those leaders, who were not so good, score subjectively lower in terms of trustworthiness in each of Mayer et al.’s (1995) three factors. This correlation between trustworthiness and ethical stewardship was empirically supported in the research study of Caldwell et al. (2009) where they found validation for Mayer et al.’s model of trustworthiness, and for Block’s (1993) stewardship model. Leadership

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