Literature Review about Organizational Leaders
The aftermath of recent organizational scandals has forced managers and researchers alike to focus their attention on ethical questions in organizational leadership. In respect of this fact, various researchers have made recommendations that ethics in organization leadership should be managed in a proactive manner though explicit ethical leadership and the development of ethical culture. In this context, organizational leaders play a big role in determining whether ethics in organizational leadership can be realized or not. The research has been carried out on the subject of ethics in organizational leadership, but there still remains room for further research and more improvements. This paper provides a review of earlier works that have been used by organizational leaders to better manage their employees and their individual ethical behaviors under the context of ethics in organization leadership.
Much has been researched and written on organizational leadership and management, especially on the subject of ethics in organization leadership. This plethora of research work has been increased to a greater extent by the manner in which ethical breaches in workplace or organizational setting has been described. This publication has been organized in such a way that all attention has been focused on the issue of ethical behavior and leadership in organizations. In a number of companies, cultural values that guide employees often emanate from the top levels. Employees take their cues from the messages communicated by those in formal organizational leadership roles. This occurs due to the fact that most employees do not know their organization executives personally. They only can make sense from what the information they receive. Therefore, senior executives must develop ethics for their leadership by being visible in ethical matters and communicating strong ethical messages. This paper provides a review of literature concerning ethics in organization leadership.
The aftermath of recent organizational scandals has provoked managers and researchers to turn their attention to questions regarding ethics in organization leadership and management. Despite the fact that scientific study of ethics in organization leadership is relatively new, there exist research and theory that can aid executives who try to manage their organizations and their ethical conduct in a better way. This literature review organizes much of the available research under the following themes:
- Ethics in organization leadership from leaders’ perspective;
- Ethics in leadership’s role in creating a ethical culture within the organization;
- Authentic leadership versus ethical leadership;
- Influence of leadership styles on ethical leadership.
Ethics in Organization Leadership from Leaders’ Perspective
Organization leaders behave ethically whenever they do what is just, good, right, and authentic. This act of ethical behavior is not limited to simply complying with rules or even ensuring fairness. It is essentially about taking into consideration the impact of one’s actions and words on other people within the organization. Applying ethics in organization leadership requires choices that are aligned with the leaders’ core values and beliefs. These choices should also honor other employees’ right to foster their own individual values. Organizational leaders are ethical, their words and actions reflect the values of their organizations, the society, and themselves as individuals. In this respect, when leaders bring their positive personal values into the organizational workplace, it should not be viewed as a desirable trait but rather as their responsibility as ethical leaders.
Argue that ethical leaders at different organizational levels employ certain intrinsic traits and behavioral patterns to transmit values and expectations. These intrinsic features come from the argument that being an ethical leader involves being, first of all, a moral person then a moral manager. Ethical leaders must exhibit a high standard of individual moral conduct in line with established standards (relating to moral person aspect) and encourage moral conduct in others (relating to moral manager). Ethical leadership may appear slightly different from country to country and the context within which leaders work may vary too, but what remains unchanged, is that ethical leadership involves being both a moral manger and a moral person irrespective of the context.
A moral person who is a leader at the same time must act with integrity and be perceived as trustworthy. Additionally, the ethical leader has to exhibit traits like honesty, integrity, and candor. The leader as a moral person should be able to:
- Ensure that his/her private moral behavior is consistent with the moral standards he/she openly espouses;
- Do what is right in every situation and act morally in all of their actions;
- Take every responsibility for his/her actions and decisions;
- Show concern for other employees and treat them fairly;
- Use values to direct his/her own decisions and behavior;
- Implement objective and fair decisions, and
- Use sound ethical principles to make decisions.
As a moral manager, the leader has to be involved in proactive promotion of ethical behaviors in other employees within the organization. This can be realized through the use of communication, a formal reward system, and role modelling. Ethics in organization leadership requires that leaders are able to recognize that their subordinates look for ethical guidance and that they as leaders can influence ethical behavior of their subordinates in a positive way. The ethical leader as a moral manager depicts the following characteristics:
- Portrays a role model for ethical decision-making and ethical behavior for his/her subordinates;
- Explains his/her decisions not only “in rationale terms” but also in ethical terms;
- Discusses ethical issues in most of their communication and encourages ethic-centered discussions among subordinates;
- Explains ethical principles and rules and incite subordinates to be open and speak up about ethic-related concerns and questions;
- Gives juniors a say in the organization’s decision making and listens to their concerns and ideas;
- Describes clearly the organization’s ethics and ensures that subordinates abide by the set ethical standards.
Taken together, research under this theme suggests that ethics in organization leadership is vital for improving ethical behavior and other critical results in organizations. Reinforcement of ethical behavior is not just an issue of weeding out the few “bad apples” within the organization, but it involves assisting others in achieving high ethical standards. These high ethical standards can be accomplished through demonstration of ethics in organization leadership.
Ethics in Leadership’s Role in Creating an Ethical Organizational Culture
Employees who report directly to an ethical leader within the organization engage in fewer acts of workplace deviancy. The study fosters the theme that ethics in leadership creates ethical organizational culture. In this study, harmful acts aimed at the organization will be lower because the supervisor is viewed as the linking pin between the organization and its employees. When an ethical leader represents positive ethical values, the subordinates’ attitude toward the organization becomes more positive and they have little motivation to harm it. Additionally, harmful acts directed at the organization and work group members will be lower. It can be explained by the fact that ethical leaders inspire subordinates to transcend their own self-interest for the greater good of the organization. With this type of transcendence, behavior that harms the organization will be inconsistent.
Ethics in organization leadership makes ethical leaders serve as a visible role model within the company. When leaders are ethical role models, then subordinates observe and imitate their ethical behavior. The imitation translates into lower levels of deviance. Unethical or personalized leadership has been associated with increased subordinate destructiveness. Ethical leadership within the organization was positively associated with the perceptions employees have of the organizations attractiveness and with their intentions to pursue employment with organizations that are led by ethical leaders.
Not all leaders within an organization promote their values and maintain an ethical perspective. Many of them do not want to be reminded of ethical leadership. Thus, they offer challenges to subordinates who want to help them generate legally accepted and eth