Ethics is a term in philosophy that traces its origin from the Greek word "ethos' referring to character. Within the organization, people expect ethical behavior that is rightfully and morally. Ethical behavior is behavior that is accepted morally in the organization and categorized as either good or right opposing bad or wrong in a given situation. The code of values and moral principles give people directions and guidelines according to the rights and wrongs in the organization (Tamunomiebi & Orianzi, 2019). Ethical leadership means that people behave according to the principles and values recognized and accepted by the majority, including respect, honesty, transparency, and integrity. Leaders differ depending on the individual style of leadership that comes from the characteristics of the individual. The leaders are characterized by different beliefs, conduct, values, and norms, depending on the organization, professionals, and the institution's culture. Ethical leadership is a concept that researchers and scholars view as a guideline for enabling people to do the right thing and avoid the wrongs. This paper aims to discuss the importance of ethical leadership and shed light on what leaders should do in the organization they lead.
Ethical leadership helps to prevent scandals, ethical dilemmas, and issues in the organization. It assists the organization in gaining more partnerships and more clients that increase the organization's income, maximizing profits. Good leadership that abides by the organization's virtues, like honesty, integrity, and transparency, helps maintain employees loyal to the organization (Sarwar, Ishaq, Amin & Ahmed, 2020). When there is a respectable affiliation between the leaders and the employees, the organization prospers because employees are motivated to work in a pleasing and good working environment. Leadership with ethics and ethical principles greatly benefits the organization and the community within the organization. Ethical leaders play a key role in boosting the employees' morale to help them feel more excited about their roles in the organization's functioning. It also helps increase positivity and collaboration in the organization to make everyone feel comfortable in the workplace. A good example of ethical leadership in an organization is respect for other workers by the leaders and treating them equally as a team to give the best to the organization.
Ethical leadership teaches ethical leaders to be aware of how their decisions impact other individuals in the organization. Therefore, they must use their power and authority to serve other employees instead of concentrating only on their interests and forgetting the other workers' interests (Adnan, Bhatti & Farooq, 2020). The engagement of these leaders creates an intellectual and passionate commitment between them and the people they lead to make the two parties similarly accountable for achieving the organization's goals. Through ethical leadership, leaders transform to inspire, stimulate and have a vision for the organization's prosperity. Ethical leaders teach the cohorts a sense of personal and professional capability that allows them to shine and be loyal, profitable, and resilient to the organization.
Ethical leadership requires leaders to ensure that ethical practices are carried out in the organization (Cortellazzo, Bruni & Zampieri, 2019). Leaders exercise their power when on or off duty, so ethical leadership influence the power in all the decision they make and the actions they take to influence other people. The leaders have the responsivity to influence processes, stimulate change in altitude and values, and give directions to the workers to foster the internalization of the organization's vision. The organization's culture and employees can be raised by the nurturing aspect of the leadership, increasing the value of the organization to higher levels of ethical behavior. It helps to demonstrate ethical leadership by promoting a high level of integrity. The workers develop a passion for working in the organization because of good ethical leadership from their leaders.
Ethical leadership helps the organization improve its brand image. An organization's brand can be destroyed by bad ethical leadership. When this happens, the organization's reputation and rating are lowered, making it lose the trust and confidence of its customers. It also reduces the income of the organization, decreasing its profits. Good ethical leadership improves the organization's brand image to increase its income and maximize profit. Excellent ethical leadership makes customers trust its services and goods hence referring more customers to the organization (Benevene et al., 2018). The referring of more customers to other customers increases the organization's marketing segmentation, creating a large population for their services.
Examples of Ethical Leadership
Ethical leadership has plenty of real-life examples, from businesses to organizations and the community. The first example is an ethical issue in the US during the period of political mass inaction. Dicks Sporting Goods decided to take a stance and remove the ability for customers to buy guns from them so that the people could respond to the mass shooting in the country. However, the decision by the company to sell firearms to their customers was criticized by many people, and the company made a record profit through selling.
The second example of ethical leadership is from an outdoor clothing company called Patagonia. The founder of the company has very strong leadership ethics. The company has for years donated a certain percentage of its sales and revenues to conservational groups. In 2014 a new CEO, Rose Marcario, joined the company and advanced that method. She fought to defend public lands, and the company's action worked well to help the customers participate in environmental and social involvement.
The third example comes from WD-40 company Chief Executive Offi0cer (CEO), Gary Ridge. The CEO passionately explains how forming a nation of trust and respect has been so transformative. He explained that management is for learning and education, and there is no need to waste getting old and not wise. Through his ethical leadership values, Ridge transformed the company to increase its shareholders and retention of employees.
The fourth example is Procter and Gamble company, which manufactures and markets consumer products such as conditioners and detergents. The company's decision in 2019 made them address important gender bias issues they found in their business. The “We See Equal” boosted them to see recruitment in another way and opened the door to more hiring methods, including more women in higher positions.
Ethical leadership is mainly dedicated to implementing tasks in the right manner according to the functions and goals of the organization. It employs the use of morals, standards, values, principles, and behaviors recognized by the organization's leaders and other individuals. Ethical leaders should be fair when dealing with other people in the organization and not discriminate against any person. Rather they should all equally motivate and encourage them to do their work in the organization. The importance of ethical leadership includes improved brand image, staff morale, a positive workplace, and employee and customer loyalty. One example of ethical leadership is an ethical issue that took place in the US during the period of political mass inaction and WD-40 company Chief Executive Offi0cer (CEO), Gary Ridge. The CEO passionately explains how creating a culture of trust and respect has been so transformative.
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Benevene, P., Dal Corso, L., De Carlo, A., Falco, A., Carluccio, F., & Vecina, M. L. (2018). Ethical leadership as antecedent of job satisfaction, affective organizational commitment and intention to stay among volunteers of non-profit organizations. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 2069.
Cortellazzo, L., Bruni, E., & Zampieri, R. (2019). The role of leadership in a digitalized world: A review. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 1938.
Sarwar, H., Ishaq, M. I., Amin, A., & Ahmed, R. (2020). Ethical leadership, work engagement, employees’ well-being, and performance: a cross-cultural comparison. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 28(12), 2008-2026.
Tamunomiebi, M. D., & Orianzi, R. (2019). Ethical leadership: Implications for organizational reputation. (2019). The Strategic Journal of Business & Change Management, 6(1), 121-134.