Ethical and moral leadership is topical in SA today. On our weekly Leadership Master Class we discussed this with a man that has learned about it through very responsible positions and through sad experience – Zwelinzima Vavi. He joined us as Prof Theo Veldsman from UJ introduced the theme and meaning of such leadership – listen here.
I will merely highlight the following list that draws a distinction between behaviors of ethical and unethical leaders. As you read it, first think of yourself, how you measure up. Then, think of current examples like our President Jacob Zuma, or Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela, or your direct manager or CEO.
The Ethical Leader
The Unethical Leader
|Is humble||Is arrogant and self-serving|
|Is concerned for the greater good||Excessively promotes self-interest|
|Is honest and straightforward||Practices deception|
|Fulfils commitments||Breaches agreements|
|Strives for fairness||Deals unfairly|
|Takes responsibility||Shifts blame to others|
|Shows respect for each individual||Diminishes others’ dignity|
|Encourages and develops others||Neglects follower development|
|Serves others||Withholds help and support|
|Shows courage to stand up for what is right||Lacks courage to confront unjust acts|
Donald G. Zauderer, “Integrity An Essential Executive Quality” Business Forum (Fal 1992, pp 12-16)
Well, how did you do? How did your manager/CEO perform? How did Pres Zuma match up? And Advocate Thuli Madonsela?
On the one hand it is difficult to be an ethical and moral leader in a world where your behavior is and will be more visible than ever before. On the other hand it is simple. Be clear about your morals and values; be clear about what morals and values matter to your followers; and finally, be clear about the morals, values and ethics of your context, be it the organization you work for or the party you represent. This means, know yourself; know your people intimately; and know your context, your organization.
When you listen to the conversation with Vavi and my panel, note two attributes that will be crucial as you attempt to exemplify a high standard to those you lead, in a world that seems to drive the benchmark down slowly but surely. The two attributes are: Humility and courage.
Without these you will struggle to be an ethical and moral leader. Listen more about why. Enjoy!
Adriaan Groenewald is a leadership expert and commentator. Do you recognize some areas in yourself or your team that need improvement? Email Adriaan on firstname.lastname@example.org for more on creating “Leadership Fit” leaders that generate successful movement (performance) inside your organisation. Follow him on Twitter: @AdriaanG_LP or @LeadershipPform.