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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Ethical Leaders and Ethical Leadership

In his forward to Joanne Ciulla's Ethics, the Heart of Leadership : Second Edition, James MacGregor Burns categorizes three types of leadership values each of which have implications for styles and stragegies for leadership itself.

These values are
ethical virtues--"old-fashioned character tests" such as sobriety, chastity, abstention, kindness, altruism and other "Ten Commandments" rules of personal conduct; ethical values such as honesty, trustworthiness, reliability, reciprocity, accountability; and moral values such as order (or security), liberty, equality, justice, community (meaning brotherhood and sisterhood, replacing the traditional term fraternity.
These values, Burns says, are exemplified in the different leadership types or models:
Status quo leaders, presiding over relatively stable communities are dependent on ethical virtues, rules of personal behavior, such as kindness and altruism, that makes for harmonious relationships. Ethical values are crucially important to transactional leaders ... Moral values lie at the heart of transforming leadership, which seeks fundamental changes in society ...
Commenting on Burns' points, Ciulla outlines three broad questions regarding ethics and leadership:
(1) The ethics of the means: What do leaders use to motivate followers to obtain their goals? What is the moral relastionship between leaders and followers?

(2) The ethics of the person: What are leaders' personal ethics? Are they motivated by self-interest or altruism?

(3) The ethics of the ends: What is the ethical values of a leaders' accomplishments? Did his/her actions serve the greatest good? What is the greatest good? Who is and isn't part of the greatest good?
She goes on to wonder if leaders need to be ethical in all three areas in order to be considered ethical leaders. For instance, how should we evaluate a leader who might be ethical as a person, but uses unethical means to achieve ethical ends, or if the same leader uses ethical means but ends up with a less than desirable result? How about a leader who accomplishes great success, but is unethical in his own personal life? What does it take to be considered an ethical or good leader? Is it too much to ask for a leader to pass all three tests before he or she can be considered a good, effective, moral and ethical leaders?

What do you think?