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Business – Ethical Leadership



Ethical leadership refers to a leadership style focused on respect for other people’s beliefs and values for the rights and dignity of other people (Sharma, Agrawal, & Khandelwal, 2019). This type of leadership is mainly concerned with virtual behavior and moral development. Ethical leadership involves leaders demonstrating effective conduct both outside and inside their business organizations, demonstrating good values and integrity by upholding their appropriate behavior. Due to the growth in global business, ethical leadership is the crucial element and a significant factor of consideration. Ethical leadership helps leaders understand, recognize and develop business in the global market sector (Sharma, Agrawal, & Khandelwal, 2019). There are significant benefits associated with ethical leadership in an organization which includes and are not limited to creating a positive culture that improves employees’ morale and performance, improved brand image, scandal prevention as the business does not create a bad public relationship and loyalty (Engelbrecht, Heine, & Mahembe, 2017). However, there are essential skills, attributes, and knowledge that an ethical leader must portray. The paper will discuss the skills, characteristics, and knowledge required to become a moral leader and demonstrate them in the future.

Skills of an Ethical Leader

Ethical skills require an individual to act consistently with other people’s moral values. There are five major ethical leadership principles: justice, honesty, respect, integrity, and community (Engelbrecht, Heine, & Mahembe, 2017). Ethical leaders must have excellent skills to lead, encourage initiatives, deliver projects, promote a sense of common purpose, and empower other people. For instance, ethical leaders must have practical communication skills. Leaders must be great communicators; thus, they must clearly explain their objectives to the employees. Leaders must master different forms of communication. In this case, ethical leaders communicate with people of different cultures and beliefs, and therefore, their way of communication has a significant impact on the organization. Universal and neutral communication helps to ensure that every member of the society is comfortable and there is no bias in the way people communicate with each other (Engelbrecht, Heine, & Mahembe, 2017). Also, in their communication, ethical leaders must ensure that they are direct to the point. Their words are in no way gender or culturally biased, as this may affect the performance of employees. Leaders must also be aware of verbal and non-verbal communication skills and effectively apply them to effective communication. In a dynamic environment, communication skills may differ; for instance, one term can have different meanings for different people, and how individuals perceive words matters. Therefore, ethical leaders should ensure that they use neutral words to make every member comfortable. However, communication goes hand in hand with listening. Ethical leaders must be active listeners as this will help them effectively discuss concerns and issues of employees through open door policy.

Another practical skill of an ethical leader is motivation (Engelbrecht, Heine, & Mahembe, 2017). Ethical leaders should go the extra mile and inspire their employees to work for the organization. Leaders should give different employees responsibilities or rewards to boost their self-esteem as they would feel recognized. Leaders should employ other practices that motivate employees such as, assessing and discussing the interests of the staff members, understanding the differences between employees that might be due to their different background and ethical beliefs, and recognizing every member of the organization. Besides, such leaders should promote teamwork s it is effective in motivating employees. The teams should comprise people of different ethnic backgrounds as this will help all individuals understand each other better and promote their interaction skills. Besides, ethical leaders should have practical decision-making skills (Engelbrecht, Heine, & Mahembe, 2017). The decisions made by ethical leaders must demonstrate respect, fairness, and caring for the members of different groups in the organization. Decision-making plays the most significant role in the planning process; hence leaders must make their decisions effectively. Moreover, ethical leaders must have good problem-solving skills. Ethical leaders should define and identify problems within the organization, generate practical solutions and best alternatives to deal with an issue.

Attributes of an Ethical Leader

Different leaders have different ways of leadership that they believe are effective. However, there are significant elements of ethical leadership that every leader must portray. For example, ethical leaders must lead by example. Ethical leaders should have similar expectations to those of their employees. They should be willing to help employees with daily tasks to understand what is required of workers and their challenges. Also, ethical leaders can guide employees and portray moral and good behavior in their working procedures (Gangai, & Agrawal, 2019). When leaders make their decisions with honesty and integrity, then workers are willing to make ethical decisions in their activities.

Also, ethical leaders must equally respect every member of the organization. Respect is a crucial element of moral responsibility. Ethical leaders will show equal respect for every individual irrespective of their position in the organization (Gangai, & Agrawal, 2019). Respect can either create a hostile and antagonistic working environment or a good working environment depending on the characteristics of the leaders and employees. Respect is an effective way of building trust within an organization. Therefore, if a leader does not show equal respect to all members, it results in bias. Members think they are not treated fairly due to their differences in ethical beliefs; hence they feel exposed to hostile working conditions.

Besides, ethical leaders must be able to mediate fairly (Gangai & Agrawal, 2019). A moral leader should be an expert in solving problems fairly and effectively that involve everybody. They must consider all the members’ opinions and respect their rights for an impartial and fair negotiation. Ethical leaders should be kind and compassionate when solving issues within the organization and focus on positive interactions to ensure that workers can perform their duties together after their differences are solved. When solving the problem in the organization, ethical leaders must respect the different cultural and moral beliefs and practices of other groups of people and ensure that their decision does not portray bias or unfairness. Employees trust leaders who respect their traditions and are willing to listen to them and effectively settle issues.

Moreover, ethical leaders must be optimistic about changes (Gangai, & Agrawal, 2019). As organizations expand, leaders must be willing to adapt to changes in the business world. This will also help employees quickly adapt to critical changes and positively respond to any change in the organization. Besides, ethical leaders must portray the five principles of ethical leadership in their practices. Thus, they must be honest, fair, and justice, have strong morals and have respect.

Knowledge of an Ethical Leader

Ethical leaders must be aware of the different cultural practices, which may be based on religion, traditional beliefs and practices, and other ethnic groups (Gangai, & Agrawal, 2019). Understanding differences within ethnic groups helps leaders to respect workers and acknowledge their beliefs. Also, ethical leaders must be aware of moral practices in different cultural people. For instance, what is right within one group might be wrong in another group; hence, every individual must be treated with due respect and integrity to avoid issues in the working environment. Moreover, ethical leaders must know the practices that promote respect and motivation for employees. Such procedures must be universal and neutral to avoid bias and disrespect for employees.

Moreover, ethical leaders must be aware of codes of conduct that guide their practices and performance within an organization (Gangai, & Agrawal, 2019). This will help to ensure that all activities and decisions align with the organizational code of conduct, mission, vision, and objectives. Leaders conduct themselves determines the behavior of every member of the organization and their performance; hence, ethical leaders must be aware of good morals and behaviors to promote good working conditions and ethics.

In conclusion, businesses today require ethical leadership as they are transforming from local to international operations. Ethical leadership focuses on what is right and within a global sector. It will help promote good morals, setting a good reputation for the organization, and a good brand image. Mistakes and misconduct within an organization result in scandals that significantly affect the company’s reputation and staining the brand image. Ethical leaders are essential to excellent performance as they the organization for success by establishing a positive working environment where all members adhere to the organization’s moral standards and give high regard to proper values, transparency, and respect.


Engelbrecht, A. S., Heine, G., & Mahembe, B. (2017). Integrity, ethical leadership, trust, and work engagement. Leadership & Organization Development Journal.

Gangai, K. N., & Agrawal, R. (2019). The linkage between ethical leadership and employee engagement for managerial performance: A critical review. BULMIM Journal of Management and Research4(1), 11-21.

Sharma, A., Agrawal, R., & Khandelwal, U. (2019). Developing ethical leadership for business organizations. Leadership & Organization Development Journal.

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