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What Is Ethical Leadership?

Whitney Leigh White
Whitney Leigh White

Ethical leadership is way of living life that a person develops both in and out of the workplace. A person that exhibits ethical leadership understands his or her core values and lives true to these values, always committing to the common good of mankind. Someone that chooses to live this way of life acts the same both in and out of his or her workplace, while, at the same time, understanding that there is no room to compromise his or her values. Through ethical leadership, many people have discovered a way to fulfill not only their needs in life, but also their dreams and potentials. There are four main key elements included in leading an ethical life: values, vision, voice, and virtues.

All persons choosing to develop and live this way of life choose their own ethical standards. These ethical standards, also known as values, are always chosen keeping in mind the common good of society. Values must be chosen so that an ethical leader can integrate them with the choices he or she makes, both within personal and public circumstances. Chosen ethical standards, many times, include a number of different themes, including consideration, critique, and justice. Many ethical leaders believe that values containing a critique theme are pertinent in developing ethical leadership because it allows for values to always be improved.

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A person who develops ethical leadership must be able to look at the choices he or she makes from a number of different perspectives, also known as an ethical leader’s vision. A true ethical leader has the ability to anticipate consequences from any choice he or she makes, which enables him or her to make the best choices possible so that the common good of society can always be maintained. Many ethical leaders form their vision by adapting to moral rules, which are rules that are believed to make society a better place to live within if all people would follow them.

Ethical leaders do just as the name implies — they lead. As ethical leaders develop the element of voice, they are able to define a path that they want others to follow, while at the same time encouraging others to follow it. One of the most important aspects for an ethical leader to obtain is being trustworthy. Being trustworthy enables a person taking on ethical leadership to effectively build strong relationships with others around him or her.

Maintaining virtuous behavior is the final element included in living an ethical life. Obtaining this element enables any person taking on ethical leadership to effectively and continually keep the common good of man at the forefront of the choices he or she makes. In order for any person to maintain virtuous behavior, he or she must always strive to do not only what is good, but also what is right. Many ethical leaders believe that the only way to obtain virtuous behaviors is by habit.

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