Topic 2: Ethical leadership is mostly about leadership integrity. Discuss. Introduction
A recent study conducted in 2010 among UK and some European companies, revealed that the most prominent ethical issues to organisations includes harassment, bribery, corruption and facilitation payments, and whistle blowing (Wesley et al. 2011). Thus, it is important that ethics must indeed embark from the top. Leaders cannot escape from their responsibility to establish a moral example for their followers. The ethical actions and behaviour of top management have to be consistent with their teaching, otherwise formal ethical training and codes are bound to have a slim chance of success. The outcome of organisational goals is dependent on the leader’s capabilities to set the direction for employee behaviour, which includes promotion, strategies and appraisal (Brown & Mitchell 2010). This essay will examine how leadership integrity plays a part in building an ethical leadership, and also consider the other factors involved in building ethical leadership.
Ethical leadership is mostly about leadership integrity
Ethical leadership involve leaders to lead in a way that respects the dignity and rights of followers. It is especially important in the society today, when the public trust has been eroded by the actions of many, in both the profit and non-profit organisations. For instance, top executives of corporate organisations contributed to the recent credit crisis by reporting higher profits than actual, in order to enjoy greater compensation themselves (Berenbeim 2009). Ethical behaviour includes key principles such as integrity, honesty, and fairness. This is a situation where by leaders engage in behaviour that benefits others and refrains from behaviour that cause harm to others (Toor & Ofori 2009). Ethical leaders embody the purpose, vision and values of the management. They link up the organisational goals to that of the employees and stakeholders, giving a sense of direction to their employees’ work and ensure that organizational decisions are based upon sound moral values (Piccolo et al. 2010). Thus, an ethical leader who demonstrates leadership integrity is one with ‘right values’ and ‘strong character’, who set examples for others by constantly making efforts to incorporate moral principles in their beliefs, values and behaviour (Freeman & Stewart 2006). Hence, leadership integrity is one of the top attribute of an effective and good leader. Leadership integrity represents an honest, reliable and trustworthy person. It symbolizes a true commitment to perform the right action, regardless of the situation. One study has shown that the integrity of profit making by managers and business owners is a key point which makes a Fortune 500 organisation stands out from other competitors (Blanchard et al. 1997). Social learning theory (Bandura 1977, 1986) also aims to explain why followers’ perceptions of ethical leadership behaviour are influenced by the individual characteristics of the leader. Social learning theory suggests that individuals learn and follow the actions, attitudes, behaviour and values of credible role models (Bandura 1977, 1986). Ethical leaders are perceived to be role models with high ethical values and traits, such as leadership integrity, and thus, this encourage followers to establish their own framework of moral ideals and principles, which ultimately leads to moral action (Avolio 2005). Followers are also able develop a higher level of moral perspective and interpersonal ability through the provision of positive and constructive moral feedback given by the ethical leaders (Eisenberg 2000; Hoffman 1988). In a study developed by psychologist Dr. Robert Turknett, it was revealed that integrity is the foundation of his leadership character model, and hence, suggested that no leader can be successful without integrity (Turknett et al. 2005). He also notes that individuals with integrity are willing to stand up and...
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