Key Principles and Values of Ethical Leadership

Utilitarian Principles

The principle of utility in normative ethics suggests that the best course of action is that which maximizes utility (Goodin, 1995). This involves maximization of happiness and reduction of suffering. This theory was formulated by Jeremy Bentham who suggested that nature has subjected mankind to both pain and pleasure; and utility principles comes about to approve or disapprove actions that augment or diminish happiness. John Stuart Mill in this same principle suggests that some kinds of pleasures are more desirable than others.

This principle may apply to leadership styles because leadership involves guiding others to perform specific tasks to achieve given objectives. In the process of performing such tasks, employees/workers are either subjected to pleasure or pain. Good leadership style should work towards the maximization of employees’ pleasure and reducing their pain as much as possible.

Work Values

There are various work values which reflect business ethics in leadership. First, leaders and employees of organisations should display strong work ethics. Apart from working hard and discharging their routine leadership roles, leaders should also work smart (Bamberger & Meshoulam, 2000). They should find the most effective way of completing their jobs and saving time in order to meet the requirements of their jobs. Secondly, leaders should also manifest dependability and responsibility in their leadership styles. Leaders should be available for their duties whenever they are needed. They should take responsibility of their actions towards employees and conduct themselves decently and with dignity at all times.

Leaders should also develop positive attitude towards employees in order to relate well with them and lead them to produce good results. Positive attitude enables leaders to motivate employees and create an environment of good will (Grossman, 2007). Honesty and integrity is also part of a leader’s work values. Good relationship at the workplace is built by trust; and that starts with leaders. Leaders should be trusted with what they say and do. They also display moral and ethical behavior in their relationships with the followers.

Individual values

Apart from exhibiting work values, leaders should also possess good individual values that can be appreciated at the workplace. One of the individual values is time management. A good leader should individually be responsible with their time management and should do the right thing at the right time as required by the nature of their jobs.

Secondly, leaders should lead moral lives. This enables them to display moral values at the workplace. They should engage in good work relationships with other members of the organization by taking moral responsibility of their actions. Leaders should also respect others and appreciate the efforts of their subordinates. Furthermore, they should show a good discipline and maintain good hygiene and appropriate dressing. Good individual values give leaders a good image which enables them to gain respect and trust from their followers.


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