Follow the Leader: Leadership Lessons from Rock Climbing

Rock Climber

Although the concept of ethical leadership has not been neglected in leadership studies, it remains a vague and poorly defined idea. A direct consequence of this ambiguity is the challenge of practicing ethical leadership in real-life situations. In an effort to better define ethical leadership and provide leadership principles that leaders can strive for, Diane P. Bischak and Jaana Woiceshyn explore what makes a virtuous leader and outline six essential virtues at the core of ethical leadership–rationality, honesty, independence, integrity, justice, and pride. In their article, “Leadership Virtues Exposed: Ethical Leadership Lessons from Leading in Rock Climbing,” published in Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, the authors utilize their observations of leadership in rock climbing to break down the concept of ethical leadership into moral action principles that are easier to define, and thus easier for leaders to apply.

The abstract:

Leadership clearly has an impact on organizational outcomes, and previous research has revealed the antecedents and consequences of JLOS_72ppiRGB_powerpointleadership styles and the effects of leaders’ personality traits. We focus on an area that has received much less attention: ethical leadership practice and the virtues that guide it. Following the positive turn in leadership research, we examine what constitutes virtuous action of leaders. We draw on observations made in a novel realm, rock climbing, and integrate them with the literature on leadership virtues while drawing parallels to business. We identify six essential virtues at the core of the ethical leadership model we propose: rationality, honesty, independence, integrity, justice, and pride. Three of these—rationality, independence, and pride—are not conventional virtues, but we suggest that they are critical for ethical leadership, as is the standard of human flourishing and the leader’s relationship with followers as a trader of values. Our analysis is summarized in testable propositions.

You can read “Leadership Virtues Exposed: Ethical Leadership Lessons from Leading in Rock Climbing” from Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

This entry was posted in Ethics, Leadership, Management and tagged , , , , , , , by Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, Management INK. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, Management INK

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 900 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, and Washington DC, our publishing programme includes more than 560 journals and over 800 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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