Leadership and Ethics

Principles of Ethical Leadership

Ethical leadership shows the way of how leaders should direct individuals and help them choose behavior in regards to the goals set (Mihelic, Lipicnik, and Tekavcic 32). Deontological (the presence of righteousness) and teleological (behavioral consequences that lead to good or harmful results) ethical principles prevail in ethical leadership. In regards to such principles, various theories and methods are introduced for leaders.

Among the existing variety, it is suggested to focus on the theory of transformational leadership developed by Burns in the 1970s and the theory of servant leadership explained by Greenleaf at the beginning of the 1970s. The main difference between these two theories is the focus leaders have to choose in their work: transformational leaders prefer to consider the needs of a company as a whole with a number of goals to be established and achieved by a variety of means, and servant leaders focus on the needs of their followers and investigate the goals of employees and the abilities that can be used and developed to meet the goals set.

Some researchers admit that transformational and servant styles of leadership are similar (Trompenaars and Voerman 53). Therefore, it is interesting to investigate their limitations, benefits, and effects on people who lead and who have to be led.

Transformational vs. Servant Leadership

Transformational leadership aims at developing organizational capacities to innovate. The supporters of this type of ethical leadership understand that liberty, justice, and equality have to be the main values developed between employees and their leaders. At the same time, it is not enough for leaders to help their followers. Transformational leaders have to show their employees ways of how their needs, values, and morals should be recognized and applied to the chosen sphere of work. In addition, such leaders should think about the possible changes together with their employees to promote improvements and positive outcomes of their work.

The connection between leaders and employees may be identified in terms of the servant leadership theory as well. This kind of leadership has rather powerful altruistic ethical peculiarities because leaders should take care of followers and make sure their needs and abilities are identified in a clear and comprehensive way. In other words, in addition to the necessity to cooperate with followers on equal terms, servant leaders have to help their people and provide the required portion of support because of the defined social responsibility. Less control and obligations could easily mislead people, so leaders should understand what they have to do and what they should never do.

Examples of Successful Leadership

Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, is one of the best representatives of transformational leaders in the world of e-commerce. This person has already made significant contributions as a transformational leader who aims at creating impressive visions of the future and the possibilities for people from different parts of the world. His achievement was the union of long-term goals of the company with the values of people who work with him.

Bezos attracted the attention of many people by introducing such really important issues as purchasing and selling various things available to all people around the whole world online. His change, innovation, and motivation were impressive indeed, and the results could be observed in the ratings where Amazon has been taking the leading position for a long period of time.

Sam Walton, Walmart’s CEO, is another example of how a servant leader should work. This person knows that success in the sphere of business is based on the way of how people, who aim at serving organizations, are treated. He admitted that “the folks on the front lines – the ones who actually talk to the customer – are the only ones who really know what’s going on out there” (Hill and Jones 99). His approach teaches many people how to respect employees and understand the reasons for such respect.


In general, ethical leadership plays an important role in organizations because it helps to identify crucial and effective steps to be taken by leaders, employees, and an organization as a whole. Successful managers should understand that any leadership is effective only when people could understand how to identify their needs and how to use the needs of separate people to meet one serious goal. Only when a person can integrate the needs of one person in the possibilities of a whole organization, successful leadership could be observed.

Works Cited

Hill, Charles W.L. and Gareth R. Jones. Essentials of Strategic Management. Mason: Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.

Mihelic, Katarina, Bogdan Lipicnik, and Metka Tekavcic. “Ethical Leadership.” International Journal of Management & Information Systems 14.5 (2010): 31-42. Print.

Trompenaars, Fons and Ed Voerman. Servant-Leadership across Cultures: Harnessing the Strength of the World’s Most Powerful Leadership Philosophy. Oxford: Infinite Ideas, 2009. Print.

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