Morals and Ethics – Leadership Perspectives

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The importance of morals and ethics today, as it has always been, is their power in molding people’s attitudes and tightening up behaviors. They endow society with a basic social need by outlining the behavior expected from everybody within the society. This helps in people living together harmoniously and fruitfully. However, in today’s generation, most people are tending to pay no attention to the role played by morals and ethics within society. This has lead to the emergence of distrust among the members of the societies, social nervousness and lack of sympathy. To alleviate this moral degradation, there is a need for society to find the remedy for this growing moral confusion. This calls for the stakeholders to act carefully and considerately as this crisis will resist any attempt to revert it. As the moral values within the society limit the manner in which people are expected to behave, there is a need for people to always examine the intentions or motives people had when acting in a manner that is against moral values. This underscores the need for an individual and societal agreement on the basis of morals to be obeyed (Allen, 1990, pp.1-3).

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International relations stakeholders have not taken moral and ethical considerations with the weight it deserves in their day-to-day activities. However, some scholars have highlighted the important roles that ethics play in international relations and foreign policies. Changes in the political environment due to worldwide growth, the upsurge of new forms of confrontation among new participants in the international landscape, new methods of military interpositions, twists in the nature of human rights norms and the outbreak of identity and social movements are all ethically important issues that we are currently confronted with. There is, therefore, a need for international relations stakeholders to deliberate on the importance of ethics in international relations and to invite scholars, moralists, journalists and all other people with experience in morals and ethics to participate in drafting guidelines to be used in the future (The Saint Paul University Ethics Centre & The Faculty of Philosophy, 2007, par.1&2).

Definition of morals and ethics from a leadership point of view

Much theoretical literature has been provided on the concept of moral and ethical leaders but little has been done to identify the beliefs and understanding of various present-day leaders. Various leaders have varied definitions of what is moral leadership and how a moral leader is expected to behave. According to some, a leader is supposed to be a person who leads by example, one who can take his or her position and speak for his or her people, one who calls forth the best in others and one who follows what he or she defines to right.

Leading by example

Some of the leaders assert that leadership through personal example is vital and insist that moral leaders ought to be aware of the impacts of their actions. The first definition of leadership concerns authority and manipulation; hence leaders should always know how their use of power and influence affects their subjects. They ought not to lead by contradiction; rather, they should walk the talk. Leadership judgments regarding people or issues reckon not only on how the acts affect the life of the people but also how they affect the life of the world as well. Moral leaders are supposed to live according to what they believe and at the same time be aware of how their behaviors and actions influence others. They are supposed not to be afraid of taking a stand on the issues of ethics and morality, behavior, courtesy and matter to do with justice. Ethical and moral leaders should be people whose roles are designed to enhance the fairness and well-being of all their followers who look upon them as their role models. They should also possess the quality of personal faithfulness which is a quality ignored by most of the institutions.

Moral leadership by taking a position

Another feature of a moral leader is the ability of the leader to take a stand on issues of moral, ethical questions of conduct, decorum and integrity. A moral leader is a person who makes others reason, asks questions on matters that arise, points to the moral oppositions within the society and addresses the neglected or marginalized persons within the society. Speaking out is a particularly important feature of a leader for the sake of the less fortunate people in society. Moral leaders ought to always speak the truth even if it is not known to most people. To achieve this, leaders will sometimes find themselves breaking rules or even laws. There is a need to break them if they are encouraging situations that are analytically wrong. Leaders should be like farsighted voices, who will challenge the status quo, be changers of the model in order to lead in changing the rules and laws for the good of their people. Moral leaders should do what ought to be done when it must be done regardless of the social norms available that may seem to constrict their move.

Leadership by calling forth the best in others

Moral leaders can be compared to the leaders of musical bands who stand in the middle of their group, listening and knowing the skills of all the members as well as theirs. These leaders subsequently call forth the value and the ability of every member leading to synchronization within the band. It is the duty of all moral leaders to promote the growth of their people and their actions to enhance community building. The power lies at the hearts of dependable leadership, and moral leadership is the practice to bring forth respect, faith and submission. Moral leadership leads to integrity, truth and impartiality and draws people into behaving in a moral way.

Leadership by following one’s prescribed definitions of right and wrong

According to some leaders, moral leadership involves understanding what is right and wrong and then following one’s principles. Moral leaders have an inborn capability of knowing right and wrong and then act according to their stands. An ethical leader is one who acts out of ethics and integrity and lives knowingly within the wide structure of what is perceived to be ethical behavior. Once the leaders have understood what it means by morality, they are able to lead their life in the right way simply not because they are honest but because they are obliged to (Maldonado & Lacey, 2004, pp. 79-101).

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Development and maintenance of high ethics in global organizations

There are different reasons why there is a need for leaders to develop and maintain high levels of ethics in global organizations. Organizations face a great challenge from ethical misconduct and dishonest behavior from employees and managers. There is a need for the organizations to identify the possible risks, unravel the existence of events related to delinquency and take the necessary measures as early as possible. All organizations have these problems and discovering and dealing with them as early as possible is the only remedy for them to excel. The law requires that organizations take an active role in promoting ethical behavior within their environs and there must be evidence of a strong ethical compliance program for violators of the ethics to be prosecuted. There is also the need for the board of directors to assign one of the managers the responsibility of ensuring that every person in the organization acts as per the ethics program. However, it is not enough to emphasize legal conformity. There is a need for educating, inspiring and training employees to act in a manner that is consistent with the ethical and legal prospects of the organization. Organizations should strive to establish the rules and the regulations that employees are supposed to follow in their daily life within the organization. This can be through establishing the code of dressing, keeping accounts of the organizations’ heroes and many other ways. Managers need to communicate to the employees about the value, prospects and principles of the organization in order to motivate them (Farrell & Farrell, 2005, par.1-7).

The extent of ethics emphasize in an event where an organization appear to downsize

It is tactically important for the organization leaders to show strong dedication to the organization’s mission and to conduct themselves as per the organizations’ cultural regulations. Failure to do so causes great harm to the shareholders and breaches the ethical contract set between the organizations’ owners and the executive leaders. There should be strict policies regarding the organization’s operations to promote a strong relationship between the shareholders and the organizations’ staff. There should also be an ethical training program offered to the employees to ensure that they are all conversant with what is expected from them. The organization leaders should guide the employees on how to keep to the organizational ethics and to nurture the sense of moral as an organization custom. Leaders should learn that their ethical behavior within the organizations plays a vital role in molding the behavior of the other employees and hence always observe them. The leaders should understand the organizations’ goals, values and know what to do to achieve them. This will help them in inspiring their subjects and communicating the organizations’ assignments to them. As leaders play a significant role in determining the extent to which their organizations engage in collective social responsibilities, they should be able to come up with ethical organizational strategies based on the organization’s point of view. They should actively encourage divergence among the staff when it comes to decision-making processes. Through this, it will be possible for the organization to challenge all the wrongdoings within the organization hence improving the staff conduct and in return improving the organization standards (Hussein, 2007, pp. 62-4).


There is a prospective result when leadership conducts mold the organizations’ ethical customs. As leaders set the organizational goals and targets, they lead to employees’ motivation and dedication to them thus increasing their productivity. As a result, the image of the organization improves in the minds of investors and clients. But the huge gains in the overall organizational efficiency are found in ethical status that represents a vital aspect of the overall operation.


Allen, S.J. (1990).The Meaning of Ethics Today: A Critical Structure for Evaluating Modern Ethics. 2009. Web.

Ferrell, O. C. & Ferrell, L. (2005). Current Developments in Managing Organizational Ethics and Compliance Initiatives. Web.

Hussein, M. (2007). Ethical Leadership Makes the Right Decisions. Journal of Technology and Business. 2009. Web.

Maldonado. L. & Lacey, C. H. (2004). Defining Moral Leadership: Perspectives of 12 Leaders. Florida Journal of Educational Research Fall 2001, 41(1), 79-101.

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The Saint Paul University Ethics Centre & The Faculty of Philosophy. (2007). The Importance of Moral Reasoning in International Relations Today. 2009. Web.

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BusinessEssay. "Morals and Ethics - Leadership Perspectives." November 12, 2021.