The important role of leaders in the process of promoting the ethical behaviour in the workplace has always been a discussed topic since leaders are supposed to set the tone for the behaviour as well as the goals of an organization. Furthermore, apart from positively influencing the behaviour in the workplace, an effective and ethical leader usually possesses potential to be promoted to higher positions in management, especially in such companies where leaders are put under pressure to perform well (Rubin, Dierdorff & Brown 2010, p. 216).
We will write a custom Essay on Importance of Leadership and Ethics in the Workplace specifically for you
301 certified writers online
Two Principles of Ethics and the Contingency Leadership Theory
When it comes to the principle areas of ethics, there are two different sides of the debate. On the one side of the argument there is deontological ethics while on the other – teleological ethics. The deontological side of the argument is linked to a general category of several theories of morality. These theories make a definition of the right actions within the framework of moral rules and duties.
Thus, the proponents of this point of view usually put a focus on the ethical act itself, paying little attention to what this act can cause. The most important aspect of the deontological point of view is the requirement for the right action, and the aim of the moral and ethical behaviour is for it to take place. Within the deontological framework, right stands apart from the good. This means that for the supporters of deontology, the moral action ends with its taking place.
The concept of deontology is opposed to teleological theory where the moral and ethical good lies in the consequence of the behaviour rather than the behaviour separately. In accordance with the teleological theory, all actions human beings perform are considered teleological since they first think about the means of an action in order to achieve a particular consequence. Thus, moral behaviour is directed by a goal.
For example, if a mother considers sending her son to the store on an icy day, she will take into consideration the consequences of her action. The son may fall on the slippery pavement and get an injury. From the point of view of teleology, all human behaviour can be divided into two directions: right or wrong, depending on what it causes (White n.d., p. 11).
To further explore the concept of ethical leadership, it is beneficial to review a specific leadership theory. Contingency theory has been chosen to achieve this aim. The contingency theory relates to the ‘refinement of the situational viewpoint’ (Bolden, Gosling, Marturano & Dennison 2003, p. 6) which puts a focus on the identification of variables in different situations, trying to predict the most ethical and moral style of leadership that will fit in a certain situation. Furthermore, the contingency theory is effective because it does not state that there is one particular style of leadership that will be fitting for all leaders.
Rather, contingency theories were developed in order to make clear that the most fitting style should be used in accordance with the situation, taking into account the type of an organization, its employees, its goals, as well as other aspects of its environment. To this degree, Fiedler’s contingency model is effective in stating that there is no one perfect way in which a manager can lead. This means that various workplace situations will influence the leadership style. For instance, in a working environment where the performance is based on the strict routine, which is very repetitive, directive leadership methods are the most suitable. On the other hand, in a dynamic working environment, a leader should better participate in the working lives of the employees (Bolden et al. 2003, p. 8).
Examples of Unethical and Ethical Behaviour in the Workplace
The examples of ethical and unethical behaviour in individuals occupying leading positions can be explored through real-life examples. For instance, good leadership is exhibited by a company the leaders of which possess some guiding principles. W. L. Gore Company is known as one of the most comfortable companies for work.
Its guiding principles for leaders include fairness to employees, ability to commit to a corporate goal, possessing a freedom to encourage employees and help them to grow in their career. Thus, W.L. Gore company is dedicated to establishing leadership principles that are ethical and effective in management as well as achievement of corporate goals.
Unethical leadership behaviour is exhibited by one of the largest global corporations, McDonald’s. For example, the company pays teenage employees twenty percent less than adult employees despite them working same hours. In addition, the company’s leaders never allow employees to create unions; furthermore, when such unions are created, the management shuts them down straight away. Wal-Mart is another large company that exhibits unethical behaviour towards employees. The management often forced employees to work overtime without additional payment. Wal-Mart is also known for its denying health insurance to employees. Such unethical behaviour can be explained by the lack of strong leaders that care about employees and will lead them towards achieving a set corporate goal.
In relation to the two conflicting concepts, the conclusion can be made that an effective leader in the customer service industry is the one that is able to adapt to the needs of the business and change the leadership strategy in accordance to what consequences such a strategy will cause. Thus, leaders should adapt the knowledge on ethical and unethical behaviour in accordance with the situation, listen to what employees say, and assess the performance effectiveness. Unethical behaviour should be eliminated straight away and replaced with more appropriate conduct.
Bolden, R, Gosling, J, Maturano, A & Dennison, P 2003, A review of leadership theory and competency frameworks, Centre for Leadership Studies, Exeter.
Rubin, R, Dierdorff, C & Brown, M 2010. ‘Do ethical leaders get ahead? Exploring ethical leadership and promotability’, Business Ethics Quarterly, vol. 20, pp. 215-36.
White, R n.d. Moral inquiry. Web.