Ethical Considerations

Why Ethics is Important

Ethics is important in leadership because leaders are responsible for influencing the followers to achieve common goals. Leaders also establish and reinforce organizational values, which drives the ethical environment that the team members are a part of. Ultimately, leaders have a greater impact on the lives of their followers based on their moral or immoral decisions.

Issues to Be Solved / Expected Outcomes 

Leaders need to behave ethically and make moral decisions for the greater good of society. If leaders are all driven by self interest, then corruption can take place, which reduces organizational performance and long term outcomes. Leaders who are perceived as ethical are better respected by their peers.


Heifeitz (1994) emphasized how leaders should use their authority to help their followers face their problems and implement changes. Since the workplace is always changing, people may develop conflicting values. From his perspective, leaders needed to step in and help their followers grow by providing an atmosphere of trust, nurturance, and empathy (Northouse, 2016). Burns (1978) emphasized the importance of followers’ needs, values, and ethics in his Transformational Leadership theory. Leaders should engage with followers in their personal struggles, resulting in moral development for both the leaders and the followers (Northouse, 2016).


In group settings, leaders have the ethical responsibility to influence others with dignity and respect. The ethical values that leaders promote will impact the values exhibited by the organization and the members within. Unethical values and behaviours, known as pseudo-transformational leadership, leads to destructive outcomes that include the violation of rights and leaving followers in a worse state than they were originally in (Northouse, 2016).


There are 5 Principles of Ethical Leadership: 

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  • Treat your followers with respect. This means valuing their perspectives and interests, and helping them achieve their own goals. You should not treat others as means to your own ends.
  • Support your followers by mentoring, coaching, and empowering them to engage with the team and citizenship. Make decisions that will benefit the team as a whole and avoid self-serving interests.
  • Be fair and just when making decisions. Treat everyone equally and avoid bias. If special treatment is given, make sure to give a valid reason that everyone will understand.
  • Be honest and transparent with your followers; give them the information that they need to know. Setting an example for your followers will reinforce their behaviours and discourage dishonesty. When a leader is unreliable, their followers will lose respect and trust in what their leader stands for (northouse, pg 435).
  • Build a strong team by highlighting common goals and achievements. Stay in tune with the interests of the community and different cultures, and encourage diversity of thought.

In the real world, where there is a lot of unethical behaviour, it is important to maintain integrity and rational thought in making leadership decisions. By demonstrating a strong commitment to ethics, you can encourage others to reciprocate and pay it forward.


Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and practice(7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Published by: KKARENISM

A career oriented millennial who is passionate about sharing my learnings with other students and early-in-careers who are interested in personal and professional development 💡

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