The Concept of Leadership Ethics


Leadership is a complex concept that does not have one approach that can solve all issues at the same time. It involves a careful analysis of leaders, their followers, and the entire situation at hand in order to identify the most appropriate approach to being a leader. Researchers have defined leadership as both science and art because managers can be effective leaders of their organizations without taking a course. Also, scholars who investigate leadership as a phenomenon may be ineffective leaders themselves when it comes to organizational settings. In this paper, important aspects and characteristics of leadership will be explored for broadening the knowledge on the subject.

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Managers Vs. Leaders

In the beginning, it is imperative to understand the difference between managers and leaders because the two concepts are used interchangeably but incorrectly. Managers usually play administrative roles and have a short-term look at organizational objectives; they accept and follow the status quo. Leaders act as innovators, and developers, having a long-term view on organizational objectives; they challenge the status quo. This differentiation is meaningful to me as a future leader because it will allow me to understand which processes relate to leadership and which relate to management.

The Interactional Framework

Mentioning the interactional framework for analyzing leadership is also important to understand the idea behind leadership and what it takes to lead successfully. It implies the functioning of three elements: a leader, followers, and a situation. A specific situation implies different interactions in the areas where management and leadership overlap. The leader in such situations should motivate and provide unique skills and values and be credible at times of uncertainty.

A leader’s followers are people that share the same values and goals and are motivated to reach them. The value of this point to me is associated with the revelation that the processes and players involved in leadership are never the same but have a distinct characteristic to explain their roles. For instance, I now understand that women in leadership roles may have different patterns of networking and employ interactive strategies; however, this does not mean that they are either more or less effective in their positions.

Developing and Adding Value to Leadership

In terms of adding value to leadership, the action-observation-reflection (AOR) model can be used. It shows that the development of leadership as a process enhances when action, observation, and reflection interact within a spiral of experience. Within this spiral, the experience is not a combination of events that happened to a person but also something people perceive from those events. As leadership implies a form of social interaction, expectations also play a role. This point is meaningful because leadership implies communication between people, and the AOR framework helped me to understand the importance of experience when it comes to leading.

When it comes to leadership development, such setting as colleges and organizational contexts can help individuals develop their skills in this area. In colleges, students are encouraged to develop leadership skills through service learning and individualized feedback. These are achieved with the help of role-playing, simulations, games, and case studies, all of which provide opportunities for practice and self-discovery. In organizational settings, leaders are prepared with the help of programs that expect a return on investment. This means that when organizations invest in the training of leaders, they expect that these investments return to them in increased profitability. The importance of training should be valued because it disproves the idea that leaders are born; rather, leaders are developed.

Becoming a Leader

When a person gets a position of a leader, a roadmap can illustrate through what he or she is going. Before starting, one implements pre-hire gathering and post-hire activities. In the first two months of operating as a leader, a person is expected to obtain external perspectives, develop a strategy, communicate decisions, and get feedback from their followers (Hughes et al. 137). In the third month, leaders usually establish a culture, communicate their values, work on improvement areas, and perform the sub-team analysis. For me, this roadmap to leadership was valuable because it offered a clear guideline on steps I could follow in case if I lead an organization in the future.

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Leaders’ Power and Influence

In the discussion about leadership, examining the concepts of power and influence is imperative. Power is defined as the capacity of an individual to influence the feelings and the decision-making of other people. When a person is powerful, the characteristics of those being influenced diminish to enhance the potential of a leader. Influence is defined as the change in beliefs, attitudes, values, and behaviors as a result of specific tactics. I understood that the difference between power and influence lay in the fact that the latter can be measured by the number of influential tactics exhibited by a leader.

The leader-follower-situation framework illustrates the sources of leader power. Expert power refers to the overall power of knowledge, which is the function of the amount of knowledge one possesses in relation to other members of the group. Referent power is associated with the political influence a leader has because of the extent of the relationship between followers and the leader. Legitimate power refers to the official authority of a leader and his or her organizational role.

Reward power is associated with the ability to influence other people by means of controlling desired resources. Coercive power is defined as the potential of a leader to influence the decision-making of followers by imposing inherent limitations on them. The mentioned framework was discussed because it offered me a cohesive platform for differentiating between the types of power and how it can be applied in different settings.

Leadership Ethics

In the discussion of leadership, it is necessary to understand the role of a character, ethics, and values. These concepts are associated with solving ethical dilemmas that arise in organizational settings. Ethics is especially important because of the need to exercise their moral values in complex situations that require a choice between priorities and value sets. When it comes to leadership values, they refer to constructs that represent generalized behaviors that leaders consider to be important.

Moral reasoning is the process used by leaders to make decisions about either ethical or unethical behaviors. It is essential to understand moral reasoning for me because it can also be used to justify negative behaviors. On the one hand, authentic leadership is an approach for self-conscious and self-aware actions that align with values. On the other hand, servant leadership is associated with serving others when assuming the role of a leader. The differentiation between these leadership types is meaningful because it will allow one to choose which style will suit a particular setting.

In the leadership context, ethics and morality are essential for creating and sustaining a beneficial climate in which all participants of the process will be valued and included. For doing so, leaders should serve as examples and exhibit both positive and negative behaviors from which followers can learn. Ethical role models are based on four categories of behaviors and attitudes, which include interpersonal behaviors, ethical actions, basic fairness, and the articulation of ethical standards.

Upward ethical leadership is an example of how individuals exercise the mentioned categories: by taking actions for sustaining ethical standards, leaders can learn about their mistakes. In an ethical climate, the expectations and standards are communicated clearly and consistently (Hughes et al. 269). In an unethical climate, little corrective action exists, which means that misbehaviors are not condoned on a regular basis. In my own opinion, effective leadership should be ethical, and valuing it will bring a leader to overall success.

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To conclude the assessment, it is imperative to mention that there is no simple ‘recipe’ for effective leadership that can be used in all settings. If one leadership style fits a particular organization, it does not mean that it will be suitable for another set. The idea that leaders are born is a misconception because training and the gaining of new experiences are necessary to develop effective skills for leading an organization. Moral values and ethics have also shown to be very important for being a successful leader. In instances of doubt, a leader is expected to show ethical behavior and resolve an arising problem with the least negative impact on the organization. The discussed points were valuable for the understanding of leadership because they provided a framework for becoming a successful leader.

Work Cited

Hughes, Richard, et al. Leadership: Enhancing the Lessons of Experience. 8th ed., McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

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