A New Model for Ethical Leadership

As people face various ethical dilemmas daily, they may prefer to use the intuitive decision-making method without considering its effect on the value of the outcomes. In both work and business environments, it is essential always to place the utility of an option for the world above any personal beliefs. In this way, the idea of utilitarianism becomes central in both project-planning and decision-making – the creators must think of consequences that would not as much benefit them personally but instead bring more value to the world. Utilitarianism is inevitably related to the deliberative system of selecting options, which, contrary to the intuitive system, is a lot more objective and relies on rational ways of thinking. The problem of intuitive decision-making is reflected in terms of bounded rationality and bounded ethnicity. The former concept refers to the personal biases that influence one’s rational way of thinking, limiting it. Bounded ethicality similarly explains how cognitive barriers can negatively affect people’s desire to analyze objectively to make the most ethical decisions. The terms highlight the importance of integrating rational decision-making skills into company policies. Of course, even the theory of utilitarianism has limitations while offering more valuable decisions. If a company blindly follows its principles without regard to sensitive details, it risks losing clients to companies that seem to be more inclusive, even if the latter provides less valuable products (Bazerman, 2020, p.93). Still, as the concepts of value and ethics are linked so closely, with increased use of the mentioned principles, ethical outcomes will improve as well.

One of the ways utility can be promoted is through the positive influence of leaders. As heads of whole societies, leaders can demonstrate opting for more useful options instead of the ones that benefit them personally. This learning outcome accentuates the essential role of leaders and further explains the main objective of utilitarianism. In this way, more people can learn to make the right ethical decisions by encouraging managers and directors to prioritize social advantages over their own. In the case that a leader shows a preference for their personal gain, employees are encouraged to question it and seek other people for the position. Furthermore, the author does not necessarily depict a good leader as a perfect one, who makes no mistakes and is morally neutral, but rather as one who is open-minded and learns from their inconsistencies. Indeed, this is emphasized by Bazerman’s urge to gather as much utility as possible without the leader’s biases standing in the way. Leaders are not just models for exemplar behavior; they are also expected to create innovative products accordingly. They can bring more value into their work through “effective nudging”: creative ideas to ensure the employees’ and clients’ honesty or ethical decisions in any other matter (Bazerman, 2020, p.97). Thus, leadership skills include setting specific patterns of problem-solving and adhering to them appropriately.

Another major outcome considers the principles of negotiation and trade-offs: to maximize value, one must again focus on choosing to benefit not just for them. This concept is applicable in both work and anecdotal situations to avoid conflict and benefit all sides. In this case, compromise is not necessarily the correct method, although it is often used to resolve disagreements. Compromising includes decreasing value for both sides, which contradicts the theory of utilitarianism. Additionally, compromising as a method is highly dependent on people’s emotions and intuitive reasoning, both of which are not supported by the author. Instead, it is suggested that trade-offs are implemented to benefit more than just oneself while also improving relationships with friends, partners, and colleagues. By sharing personal information, asking questions, and building trust, more sources of value can be found. Finally, through these methods, the “maximum sustainable goodness can be achieved: the level of value creation that we can realistically achieve” (Bazerman, 2020, p.94). In business ethics, the emphasis should be placed on developing high-quality products and forming stable relationships with partners – valuable results.

Time is also a valuable factor to consider in ethical decision-making. One must not waste time or spend it irrationally as that decreases utility. An essential skill, in this case, is the ability to organize a schedule that allows for time to be spent wisely, with maximum valuable results. Hence, if the task is useless in the long run, it is wiser to pick another one that will be beneficial for collective practicality. Rational thinking is crucial in this case because, unlike intuitive systems, it does not allow for hasty reasoning and instead prioritizes time allocation to ensure higher quality results. Additionally, properly allocating time can be used as an advantageous method by many companies, as well as individuals, to create better products and promote more ethical decision-making. This concept is seen as a comparative advantage that everyone can possess if they are willing to organize their time efficiently. Furthermore, revising how to make decisions ethically constitutes the precisely allocated time. The author recommends comparing options, not reviewing each one separately because intuitive reasoning will dominate over deliberative in these instances (Bazerman, 2020, p.94). On the contrary, when faced with several options, personal biases are blocked by specific criteria and categories. In any case, ignoring personal, societal status is key when faced with difficult decisions, especially in managing people.

Ethical questions constantly concern various business fields and customers’ personal lives, which accentuate the importance of learning to deal with them appropriately. The author’s main point of integrating utilitarian principles into work environments encourages strong leadership skills, deliberative methods of decision-making, forming trusting relationships with clients, and allocating time wisely. Although the author acknowledges people’s tendency to at times be unethical and strictly follow moral codes in other instances, he also explains that it is normal to do so. Bazerman notes: “If we care about the value…we create, remembering we’re likely to be ethical in some domains and unethical in others can help us identify where change might be most useful” (Bazerman, 2020, p.96). In fact, people’s mistakes aid in perfecting the decision-making systems; choosing the wrong options is not critical as long as the proper conclusion is made from the experience. As a result, the future manager understands that complex ethical situations may appear and is motivated to seek resolution methods. As the concept of the veil of ignorance is brought up, a point about rejecting bias is made: in cases of inevitable predisposition, appearing with no societal status increases the objectivity of an approach. The future manager must be aware of these factors regarding their personal beliefs and the attitudes of their employees. It is crucial to follow the mentioned principles consistently, adhering to the whole set without excluding any points. In the end, the author prioritizes bringing more value into work and choosing collective gain over personal. Learning to objectively make decisions can be seen as the first and central step towards becoming a powerful leader.


Bazerman, Max. (2020). A new model for ethical leadership. Create more value for society. Harvard business review, 91-97.

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