Ethics and Leadership

From Black Monday 1987, Enron in 2001, and the financial crisis of 2008; business ethics have come to the forefront of everyday conversation. It is fair to say that our financial and cooperate institutions are not the only segments in the society to experience scandals. Nonetheless, due to the exploitation of natural resources, food shortages, poverty, pandemics, pollution, and terrorism; a number of growing experts view these dilemmas as contributing to the ethical decline of our business establishments. The past and current scandals in our business world legitimize this view. Many believe that our preoccupation with success and wealth bolsters this argument. Our nation’s current financial situation raises strong questions about business morality, in particular ethical leadership. In pertaining to ethical leadership thought and development, relative theories or models should be placed in perspective. According to some researchers, ethical leadership literature focuses on the philosophies of virtue ethics and deontology over consequential-ism (Knights and O’Leary, 2006). Consequential-ist theories (i.e. egoism, applying morality for personal gain; and utilitarianism, happiness of the greatest number is the greater good) fundamental aspects are the acts of ‘right and wrong’; and pleasure is ‘good’ and pain is ‘evil’. These cause and effect ideologies can appear to be ‘one-dimensional’ and redundant in achieving its results. In contrast; rights-based ethics such as deontology promotes fairness, equality, truthfulness, and freedom.

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