Blog 1: Ethics and Leadership

Ethics and Leadership

Image result for Ethical leadership

Figure 1: Ethical Leadership

Source: Google

Ethics is defined to be the code of values and moral principles which guide an individual or group behaviour with respect to what is right or wrong (Mihelič et al. 2010). In other words, these values and moral principles are displayed through our actions which are then judged as being ethical or otherwise as quoted by Jane Addams; “Action indeed is the sole medium of expression for ethics”. Leadership, on the other hand, is the ability to influence and guide others towards achieving a desired goal or vision which has been set.  However, leadership can also have different meanings to people depending on the various terms of leadership which include traits, behaviours, interaction patterns, influence, role relationships as well as the occupation of an administrative position (Yuki 2013). Leaders vary depending on their individual style which stems from their personality characteristics (Mihelič et al. 2010). Good leaders set examples and often have visions which are realistic and create values for the organisation, stakeholders and customers as a whole. Most importantly, good leaders would need to sell their vision to their employees by effectively communicating and influencing employees to strive towards that vision (Chuang 2013). In addition, they acquire the abilities to recognise and connect global trends with organisational development plans (Chuang 2013). According to Brown, Trevino and Harrison (2005), ethical leadership is a demonstration of appropriate conduct through personal actions and interpersonal relationships and the promotion of such conduct to others through two-way communication, reinforcement and decision making (De Hoogh and Den Hartog, 2008). It’s also a way of enabling people in an organisation to do the right thing while respecting the rights and dignity of others. Ethical leadership is vital in an organisation because leaders who strive for ethical conduct motivate others to act in ethical ways (Butts n.d). Brown, Trevino and Harrison (2005) also described ethical leaders to be honest, fair, trustworthy and caring. As such, leaders of these kinds structure work environments fairly and do not bias when it comes to decision making.

Principle theories of Ethical Leadership

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Figure 2: Approach to Ethics

Source: Google

The two commonly known principles of ethical leadership are identified as the deontological theory (Kantianism) and the teleological theory (Consequentialism). The deontological theory emphasizes on rules and duties whereby an action must be undertaken regardless of the consequences. This study suggests that good or bad conduct is apparent in the action itself and we should always do the right thing. Contrary to the deontological theory, the teleological theory points out that the outcomes of an act determine if the particular action is good or bad.  In other words, an action whether good or bad that produces the greatest amount of good consequences is the right thing to do (BBC 2014). However, there are certain limitations with the teleological theory. This theory could lead to a conclusion whereby certain awful acts which produce good consequences are the right thing to do regardless of whether it is ethical or not but as long it produces great results (BBC 2014).

4-V model of Ethical Leadership

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Figure 3: 4-V Model

Source: Google

Ethical leadership can be explained using the 4-V model which was developed by Dr Bill Grace. The 4-V model is a framework that lines up the internal factors comprising of beliefs and values and the external factors which include behaviours and actions for the purpose of advancing common good (Kar n.d). The 4-V’s stands for values, vision, voice and virtue. Values carry an individual’s ideas as to what is right and desirable as well as influences behavior, perception and the level of an individual’s motivation.  Vision is the ability to frame our actions in service to others (Kar n.d). Voice is the process of expressing our vision to others in a convincing manner and the ability to communicate effectively (Kar n.d). Lastly, virtues are the understanding that we become what we practice, therefore we foster virtues by striving to do what is right and good (Kar n.d).

Unethical practices of leadership

Figure 4: Martin Winterkorn, former CEO of Volkswagen

Source: Fast Company

In today’s world, many individuals who have been selected as leaders or CEO’s of organisations tend to misuse their authority by defrauding and laundering money, insider trading, falsifying documents and conspiracies. These are examples of bad ethical leadership. Similarly, Martin Winterkorn, the former CEO of Volkswagen had his share of being unethical by approving the installation of a software device which failed to accurately report emissions of nitrogen oxide on its vehicles which could lead to the decrease in environmental safety (Dishman 2015).

Good ethical leadership

Figure 5: Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks

Source: Fast Company

Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks who’s a billionaire has proved himself to be preoccupied with more than just profits. Schultz involves himself in social responsibility programs and has initiated a plan to cover college tuition fees for its U.S based Starbucks employees who are working more than 20 hours per week to enroll in an online degree program from Arizona State University (Dishman 2015).  Moreover, Schultz has offered comprehensive health care and stock options for his employees to create a more committed workforce (Dishman 2015).


Image result for Ethical leadership

Figure 6: Ethical leadership

Source: Google

In conclusion, this blog provides a brief understanding of being an ethical leader. A leader can be powerful and rich but without ethics, the method of leading would not transform individual lives or make a significant impact to an organisation. A profound ethical leader would need to examine their own behaviour and values as well as the willingness and strength to accept responsibility for the effects of their actions on others.

(828 words)


Addams, J. (n.d.) Jane Addams Quotes [online] available from <; [25 January 2017]

BBC, (2014) BBC – Ethics – Introduction To Ethics: Ethics: A General Introduction [online] available from <; [25 January 2017]

Butts, J. (n.d.) Ethics In Organization And Leadership [online] available from <; [25 January 2017]


De Hoogh, A. and Den Hartog, D. (2008) Ethical And Despotic Leadership, Relationships With Leader’s Social Responsibility, Top Management Team Effectiveness And Subordinates’ Optimism: A Multi-Method Study [online] available from <; [25 January 2017]

Dishman, L. (2015) The 10 Best And Worst Leaders Of 2015 [online] available from <; [25 January 2017]

Kar, S. (n.d.) Ethical Leadership: Best Practice For Success [online] available from <; [25 January 2017]

Mihelič, K., Lipičnik, B. and Tekavčič, M. (2010) Ethical Leadership [online] available from <; [25 January 2017]

Yukl, G. (2013) Leadership In Organizations. 8th edn. Pearson Education Limited


13 thoughts on “Blog 1: Ethics and Leadership

  1. Great explanation on ethical leadership. I must agree with you on self reflection to become a good leader. An individual must always look in his or her own characters and identify the good values first before leading the followers. Some leaders get carried away with power, lust and richness until they lose all their good values and start practicing unethical practices.

    Liked by 1 person

    • True what you’ve mentioned. Some leaders are power crazy and also become greedy for more money which ends up leaving bad consequences to people around them. Appreciate your feedback, thank you. Please continue to follow my blogs and feel free to comment.


    • Absolutely, because the leader has to be an example to the rest, therefore a reflecting on themselves first is the key factor in determining if he/she can be a good leader. Thank you for your feedback. Please continue to follow my blogs and feel free to comment.


    • Thank you for the kind comments. Please continue to follow my blogs and provide feedback. In my opinion, being lead by a deontological or a teleological leader would entirely depend on the circumstances of a particular situation. Both deontological and teleological have their pro’s and con’s, therefore the judgment would definitely lie in the hands of the scenario that we are dealing with. What’s your take in this?


      • I strongly agreed that leaders need to depend on the situation to say which is good. Just like in a situation that you need tell a lie to save a friend from murder, so if base on Teleological it is ethic as telling a lie save friends from murder; however, in Deontological it is not ethic because telling a lie is a wrong action. I prefer to choose as neutral on either Teleological or Deontological.


  2. Thank you for your feedback. According to the last updated news in 2015, Volkswagen is still coming up with ways to fix the nitrogen oxide emission issue as the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board have yet to agree on a method to resolve the US problem. Most of the affected vehicles were from the US and Europe. However, they have officially apologized and resorted to providing big discounts to some of its models such as Jetta and Passat. The impact of this issue has caused a negative impact on the car-maker company in terms of its reputation and credibility due to multiple lawsuits faced.

    Liked by 1 person

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