By Linda Fisher Thornton
Preparing Leaders For Ethical Leadership
Preparing leaders for ethical leadership is a long-term process. It requires careful thought about the messages we are sending. For example, what message are we sending when we separate ethics training from other leadership training?
The Risks of “Separate” Ethics Training
I believe that we take an unnecessary risk when we separate ethics training from the rest of a leader’s development. When we separate ethics training and leadership training, we may be unintentionally sending the message that ethics is separate from leadership. What could be the harm of separating ethics from leadership?
The Impact on the Leader’s Mindset
If we separate “ethics” from “leadership” as leaders are learning, they could develop the mindset that ethics is compartmentalized and that ethical decisions are different from other decisions.
Leaders who receive separate ethics training that is not an integral component in the rest of their leadership development may think of it as they would think about a vaccination, to be tolerated once in a while, but not something that should govern their thinking, choices and behavior every day.
Leaving Leaders to Fill in the Blanks
When ethics and leadership are not integrated during the learning process, leaders may have difficulty integrating ethics and leadership themselves in day-to-day practice.
Strong Leadership Without Ethics
One of the most worrisome possibilities of teaching ethics separately from leadership is this:
If we continue to teach leadership without its governing ethics and values built in, we could unintentionally be teaching people to use strong leadership that is outside of the boundaries of ethical behavior.