Ethical leadership: a legacy for the future

The world continues to be rocked by scandalous activities and unethical behavior among senior people in large corporations. So, it is a good time to ask about the type of leaders that we, as a global society, want and need to lead our countries, institutions and businesses. After all, the consequences of poor decisions can be dramatic and far reaching.

At its heart, the term “ethical leadership” presumes that there is a simple basic difference between right and wrong, and that an ethical leader is one who does what is right. It is about balancing the organization’s short-term goals and longer-term aspirations in a way that achieves a positive result for all those who could be affected by the organization and the decisions of its leader.

It goes without saying that the more senior the leadership role, the more influence and impact the leader’s decisions will have on a broader group of stakeholders. Therefore, the more senior the leader, the more careful and circumspect they should be in reaching decisions. This is the very essence of establishing sound oversight and governance. Structures should be in place to provide the leader with a sounding board and advisory conscience. This will help to prevent them from taking ill-advised decisions and actions that may ultimately cause harm.

In the full article, the authors explore the six levels of ethical behavior from the unethical through to the highly ethical. These include rejection, non-responsiveness and compliance through to proactivity and sustaining. The authors also offer guidance on how to determine the ethical strength of a leader, and strategies that organizations can consider when trying to implement a culture of ethical leadership.

A company’s leaders are the embodiment of the organization and, by extension, its collective intellect, soul and conscience. This is a responsibility much greater, and with a much higher purpose, than may initially be apparent. Ethical leaders are those who readily grasp this concept and view their role as stewards of the organization.

The complete article was written by:

  • Viv Oates
    Africa Advisory Leader, Ernst & Young, Africa
  • Tim Dalmau
    Management Consultant, Dalmau Network Group, Australia

Read the full articlepdf592.54 kB

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