Ethical Leadership in Organizations

Seminar Paper, 2018

14 Pages, Grade: 1.4


Table of Contents



Ethical Behavior

Principles of Ethical Leadership
Bill Gates’ Case
Steve Jobs’ Case

Ethical Leadership in the Public Sector




Everyone has the entitlement to privacy whether he/she is a public figure or a business leader. However, public life demands that individuals at the helm of leadership conceptualize certain things that guide their behaviour both in public and private situations. Becoming a corporate leader demands observing public service ethics, this in turn demands that individuals give public interest priority to shape their behaviours whether they are executing private or public life. It is not always conceivable that the ethical behaviour of leaders in their personal lives automatically reflect their ethical behaviour as business leaders. It is this conviction that makes it meaningful for individuals to have separate private and public lives. Usually, the image individuals volunteer to represent them in public might be hard to extend to private lives. Too often, the desire to improve business leadership has made it tempting to spy on individuals’ private lives to validate one’s authenticity to ethical leadership. This in essence stipulates that leaders should not take leave of personal ethics that makes them who they are even in private. Within the leadership principles, keeping to high ideals cherished in business leadership is the best way to carry one’s self whether in private or public space.


While the expectations of corporate leadership approach focus on the virtues of promoting efficiency and improving productivity in running organizations, humanity has not find it easy living to the expectations of the doctrine (Riccucci, 2010). In private instances, people retreat to certain lifestyles that might not necessarily portray the kind of a corporate leader they project in public. The aim of ethical behaviour is to use market competition strategies and business practices to make organizations or institutions work better. Within the concept public service for example, ethics demands that those in leadership positions observe the necessary decorum to offer effective direction to followers (Northouse, 2010). In practice, keeping to the dictates of public ethics decorum has always dodged many hence the need to hone the behaviour of individuals in leadership.

Ethical Behavior

Perhaps certain leadership theories and styles as approaches to leadership might be instrumental in shaping the behaviour of individuals. Leadership style explores a particular and a confined set of behaviours used by an individual to give direction to followers. In essence, within corporate practice individual behaviour matters most (Tarallo, 2012), and whether individuals are in private or public places, their behaviour has to remain relevant. Transformational and transactional leadership styles are partly instrumental in guiding the behaviour of individuals since these leadership styles seek to inspire individuals to modify their behaviour to act as leaders regardless of the situation in which they are (Palanski & Yammarino, 2009). Thus, whenever leaders align themselves with no leadership styles, there is likelihood that they might fall pray of temptations that might negate their behaviour in private capacities. It is no doubt that specific leadership theories are instrumental in developing cognitive skills. The skills might be instrumental in guiding the behaviours of leaders to present themselves with adequate decorum regardless of the situation under which they work and live. As Abualrub and Alghamdi (2012) note, authoritarian or paternalistic leadership approaches apply both parenting and strict disciplinarian tendencies capable of making individuals to drift adequately between work and personal lives. It is expected that business leaders give the necessary guidance when they are at personal level.

Principles of Ethical Leadership

The essential manner in which business leaders survive the differing divides in life is the adoption of positive reinforcement that makes individual behaviour resonate to the environmental concerns without losing focus of self. Positive reinforcement usually occurs when a positive stimulus makes a follow up especially in response to a behaviour that seeks to increase the likelihood of behaviour modification (Palanski & Yammarino, 2009). Individuals might be good as corporate leaders; however, they might exhibit certain behaviours that the public are not accustomed to. Addressing individual behaviours at private level could be hard hence the need for individuals with unbecoming conducts to seek redress where necessary. Perhaps the strategies that a public leader could use in order to overcome the weaknesses inherent in his / her leadership style includes the ability to know one’s weaknesses and capacity to transform those weaknesses into strengths. Generally, public leadership is demanding and for it to be effective and sustainable, the need to develop new approaches arises constantly. Business leadership is among the areas that seek to safeguard the wellbeing of humanity hence the need to trust it with reliable individuals whose behaviours are beyond reproach.

Bill Gates’ Case

Individuals in business leadership must accommodate the necessary and reliable practices available to them to navigate the many behaviour concerns inherent within the corporate world. A case study of a situation that supports the claim is that of Bill Gates. Bill Gates is an example of an accommodative personality from his family values to the workplace. With his three children, Phobea, Rory, and Jennifer with Melinda French, Bill Gates presents himself as a people loving and caring individuals (Bill Gates - Personal Life, n.d.). At the workplace, Gates applies the same team spirit in engaging his employees. Together with his wife, they formed the Melinda Gates Foundation to care for the poor. Clearly, the personal characters of the Gates family are reflected in their management styles at the business front.

The concept of ethical principles in leadership denotes that there are certain approaches of doing things or behaving in accordance with professionalism. Once a leader, always a leader regardless of the situation one is in (Palanski & Yammarino, 2009). However, certain individuals prefer retreating to their cocoons once they are out of public limelight. This usually contravenes the provisions that respect the ethical standards of professionalism (British Association for Counselling and Physiotherapy [BACP], 2012). Regardless of the situation, leaders have to meet the expectations of ethics and ensure that their conduct fall within the context of leadership ideals cherished within the corporate world. Ethics as Bosede (2010) notes denote moral standards that influence or control individuals’ behaviour while outlining a philosophical discipline concerned with individuals’ conduct that guide moral decision-making at a personal level. Ethical codes are inspirational in nature and their tenets are to inspire and guide business leaders to align their behaviour toward professional ideals.

To hone an individual’s character, a great sense of self-esteem is necessary. Self-esteem consists of respect for self, as well as, the regard to the consent of others. However, certain individuals in leadership positions have little or no regard for the consent of others. This principle according to Bosede (2010) emphasizes the significance of the commitment by a business leader to participate in the process of ethical mannerism regardless of the situation. Leaders who demonstrate respect toward the autonomy of others have a chance of others reciprocating their good gesture. However, certain individuals in leadership positions extend their authority to private space; hence limiting other people’s input. Such individuals might show disregard for others’ opinion, hence risk being irrelevant in positions in leadership. In guaranteeing self-esteem, individuals are tasked with the ethical character building practices to inform the basis of their lifestyles (BACP, 2012). Self-esteem guarantees that individuals in leadership positions engage others in open dealings to develop a positive public image.

In practice, business leadership upholds the precepts of ethical leadership process through focusing on the client’s satisfaction. As such, business leaders are expected to portray ethical characteristics in their personal attributes. As such, business leaders are ought to incorporate corporate ideals in their personality for synergy between leadership and the corporate’s core values. This enables corporations to advance in development based on business ethics. However, some business leaders focus on self-enrichment, contrary to what business ethics demand (BACP, 2012). On the other hand, business leadership focuses on utilizing knowledge and experience as the main parameters of competence in service provision within an institution. As a result, business leaders tend to modify their character to suit the expectations of their clients. This is why most business leaders reflect ethical traits in both public and private places. In order to maintain appreciable ethical traits among business leaders, aspects related to professional development such as supervision and adoption of best practices in service provision are necessary (Bosede, 2010).


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Ethical Leadership in Organizations
Egerton University
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ethical, leadership, organizations
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Patrick Kimuyu (Author), 2018, Ethical Leadership in Organizations, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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