We live in a day where ethical leadership is challenged more and more. Authors Manuel Mendonca and Rabindra N. Kanungo (2007) state, “the need to explore the phenomenon of ethical leadership in organizations is prompted by the increasing societal concern that it is unacceptable for organizational leaders to be indifferent to moral responsibility, much less engage in unethical behavior” (p. 1). We have had many recent examples in the media of organizations gone wrong when the leadership participates in unethical behavior. Effective organizational leaders need a good ethical foundation in order to make the right decisions at the right time. Because the leader’s responsibility is to move an organization from the status quo to a future desired and agreed upon goal, it is important to consider the role of ethical leadership. Leaders are expected to provide direction, gain trust, and motivate employees. These expectations can only be achieved by a leader who has a high degree of moral attributes.

Mendonca and Kanungo (2007) go on to write, “when one thinks of a leader, the notion that immediately comes to mind is power” (p. 50). Many leaders derive their power from personal and position power bases. The need for more power is what can challenge a leader to make unethical decisions. Power is used for the self interest of the leader or for the growth and development of the follower and the organization. Certainly, effective and ethical leaders must use both their personal and position power bases for the growth of the follower and the organization.

Because as stated by this website experts we are all leaders at some point in time, it is important to consider the topic of ethical leadership. “Ethical leadership is essentially transformational in nature; and includes the self-transformation of both leaders and followers” (Mendonca & Kanungo, 2007, p. 74). The following points should be kept in mind when facing decisions that challenge one’s moral and ethical code:

  • What is your motive/intent?
  • What are your rights and obligations?
  • What are your core values?

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