“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” —Thomas Jefferson
We hope you’ve enjoyed our series on the challenges of leadership. Today’s post is all about leadership and ethics — and with Corporate Compliance and Ethics Week coming up next Monday, be sure to tune in for more related research and insights.
In their article “The Role of Moral Values in Instigating Morally Responsible Decisions” (Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, March 2013), Richard P. Bagozzi, Leslie E. Sekerka, Vanessa Hill, and Francesco Sguera warn of “the distance between espoused values and values in action” in leaders that can block “the virtuous self”:
If we want leaders to model this competency and build ethical organizations, we must provide them with the tools to understand their values at a root level and how to act accordingly. Putting expectations into action for virtuous human systems means helping people understand how their values may serve as guides to behavioral choices. Without focused awareness and commitment to right action, these values can dissipate. [Read more]
In “Someone to Look Up To: Executive-Follower Ethical Reasoning and Perceptions of Ethical Leadership” (Journal of Management, March 2013), Jennifer Jordan, Michael E. Brown, Linda K. Treviño, and Sydney Finkelstein look into what makes ethical leaders tick:
Despite a business environment that highlights the importance of executives’ ethical leadership, the individual antecedents of ethical leadership remain largely unknown. In this study, the authors propose that follower perceptions of ethical leadership depend on the executive leader’s cognitive moral development (CMD) and, more importantly, on the relationship between executive leader and follower CMD. [Read more]
And in his article “Leading questions: Leadership, ethics, and administrative evil” (Leadership, May 2012), George E. Reed warns of modern organizations’ “diffusion of information” and “fragmentation of responsibility,” noting:
The result is the very real possibility that well-intentioned people who conscientiously perform their jobs will unintentionally participate in systems and processes that produce great harm. Some may not even be aware that they are doing anything wrong; they certainly intend no great harm, and furthermore, those around them would likely agree at the time that they are simply acting in consonance with accepted professional roles and practices. They may also play a crucial part in a larger process that perpetrates harm. [Read more]