Universities, workplaces, and decision-makers across the country are grappling with the hot topic of leadership ethics. And if you think the term refers to some vague expectation that leaders follow their own rules, well, you’re wrong. It’s an emerging field, and students and educators alike need to know about it.
As a discipline, leadership ethics asks distinct questions about morality and power. And now more than ever, educators are recognizing the critical importance of providing the next generation with the tools it needs to respond to those questions.
The Importance of Trust in Leadership ethnic
The stakes are high. Civil society and a free market economy depend on the ability of consumers to trust the businesses and governments that serve them. And that trust hinges on leaders who do what’s right.
How hard is it for leaders to do the right thing? Do they really need to be taught?
Any school child has the ability to learn a set of rules and to understand that breaking those rules will lead to consequences. But often, the toughest ethical decisions are not a question of whether or not to follow the rules.
Leaders frequently struggle with how to resolve the conflict between what’s right for one group of people with what’s right for a different group of people. Or they might have to choose between competing values, such as freedom and safety. They must also find ways to promote an organizational culture in which everyone at every level benefits by choosing to engage in ethical behavior.
Key Questions in Leadership Ethics
Advanced training in leadership ethics may be available through business schools, other professional or pre-professional programs, or college philosophy departments, and will vary accordingly.
Wherever you go, however, you’re likely to encounter the following questions:
In what ways do leaders influence the ethical culture of an organization? What are a leader’s responsibilities with regard to promoting self-interest versus promoting the common good? What are the ethical challenges that are particular to leaders?
These are complicated questions, but it’s never too early to lay the groundwork necessary for responding to them. Envision offers leadership development programs for students from grade school through college, including workshops for personal leadership plans and hands-on opportunities for leadership exploration across the United States and globally.
Applying Theory to Practice Leadership ethnic
The beauty of studying leadership ethics is that it provides students with the opportunity to apply philosophical theory to their everyday lives and observations. Using methods such as self-reflection and case studies, students outline and analyze their own personal ethical systems, compare them to existing organizational ethical systems, and examine the real-world ethical dilemmas that leaders continually face.
In her white paper, Ethics and Leadership, Susan P. Mullane of the Johnson A. Edosomwan Leadership Institute at the University of Miami note that “Ethical dilemmas occur when important values come into conflict, and the decision-maker (the leader, in many cases) must make a choice between these values.”
To face the daunting task of confronting such difficult choices, leaders need more than a strong mind and good intentions. They need also need a specialized skill set, one that can’t just be learned from a book.
The Take-Away on Leadership ethnic
The best way to develop such complex leadership skills is to work on them in stages and over time. How should you do that? Participate in leadership development programs. Network with established and up-and-coming leaders. Take advantage of opportunities to assume leadership roles in activities you care about. When should you start? Now.