How Do We Determine Our Ethics as Leaders?
Why is it such a challenge to determine how we interpret “ethical leadership?” Because there are many different ways of determining what we consider to be ethical. Even while trying to be responsible we can still miss the mark by a mile.
Consider some of the possible ways that a leader might interpret ethics.
Ethics in a Vacuum
- Looks at “ethics” in a silo, investigating deeply rather than broadly
- Excludes areas that others consider to be part of ethical leadership
- Ignores how emerging knowledge in other areas of practice should impact ethical leadership
- Determines what is ethical based on individual values and selectively chosen research
- Defines “ethics” in the context that provides the most benefits for the interpreter
- Often fiercely defends own decisions as “ethical” using judgemental words and blame
Ethics in a Historical Context
- Defines ethics based on the knowledge of ethics scholars and historical thinkers
- Uses historical ideas to solve today’s complex challenges
- Ignores the current evolving leadership context and new research
- Limits the boundaries of ethics to those that have been extensively written about and studied
Ethics at the Intersection
- Determines what is ethical based on a holistic view of ethics
- Changes definition of “ethical” based on new research. .. not finite… ever evolving
- Considers research beyond the boundaries of “formal ethics” to include the impact of choices on employee engagement, innovation and more
- Takes an integrative perspective, looking at what we can learn from the places where many disciplines intersect (for example: philosophy, psychology, sociology, ecology and leadership)