Three Levels of Ethical Leadership

Topics: Ethics, Business ethics, Morality Pages: 3 (604 words) Published: November 2, 2013
Levels of Ethical Leadership

Palmer (2009) defines three levels of ethical leadership as the ethics of leaders, the means, and the heart of leadership. He differentiates the three levels of ethical leadership by identifying issues that occur in each level. In level one, Palmer (2009) compares the ethics and morals of leaders in their personal life and how it is reflected in their professional behavior as leaders. He identifies the second level of ethical leadership as the means in which leaders exercise and demonstrate their leadership. The means of leadership can be evaluated in moral terms and in style or model of delivery. In level three, Palmer (2009) surmises that the ethics of leadership completes itself with the heart of leadership, or the leaders vision, and passion and their ability to move others to action.

Similarly, Freestone et. al, (2008) found that consumers are switching towards more socially and environmentally responsible products and services, reflecting a shift in moral and ethical values. Consumer’s motivational attitudes are a function of their stage of ethical awareness, concern, and action similar to those defined by Palmer (2009). His study found that strategic insight for communicating ethical messages to ethical consumers helps in understanding their purchasing decisions.

Common Vision and Common Good

Interdependent leadership requires mutual inquiry and learning (McCauley et al., 2008). To minimize detracting factors such as ego, lack of authenticity and trust, and resistance to change, leaders must consider motivation in collaboration. Social responsibility as defined by McCauley et al. (2008) encourages partnerships and alliances that are working to the common good, which is ideally imbedded in the organizations core values. O’brien (2009) believes that common good dictates that leadership should be judged according to moral criteria rather than professional competence. Common good also reminds businesses that they...

References: Freestone, O. M., & Mcgoldrick, P. J. (2008). Motivations of the ethical consumer. Journal of Business Ethics, 79(4), 445-467. doi: 10.1007/s10551-007-9409-1
McCauley, C.D., Paulus, C.J., Drath, W.H., Hughes, R.L., McGuire, J.B., O 'Connor, P.M.G., Van Velsor, E. (2008). Interdependent leadership in organizations: evidence from six case studies. Center for Creative Leadership.
Netflix. (n.d.). Netflix Culture: Freedom and Responsibility. Retrieved from
O’brien, T. (2009). Reconsidering the common good in a business context. Journal of Business Ethics, 85, 25-37. doi: 10.1007/s10551-008-9942-6
Palmer, D. E. (2009). Business leadership: Three levels of ethical analysis. Journal of Business Ethics, 88(3), 525-536. doi: 10.1007/s10551-009-0117-x
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