Leadership Ethics

Posted on 05. Feb, 2009 by in Leadership ethics

Pierre Du Plessis asked:

Here are a few things to ponder on about leadership ethics and our own individual position with regard to these principles:

1. General Douglas MacArthur’s Leadership Principles:

MacArthur developed a list of questions to guide him in his leadership duties. These principles can be applied to any leadership situation.

1. Do I heckle my subordinates or strengthen and encourage them?

2. Do I use moral courage in getting rid of subordinates who have proven themselves beyond doubt to be unfit?

3. Have I done all in my power by encouragement, incentive and spur to salvage the weak and erring?

4. Do I know by NAME and CHARACTER a maximum number of subordinates for whom I am responsible? Do I know them intimately?

5. Am I thoroughly familiar with the technique, necessities, objectives and administration of my job?

6. Do I lose my temper at individuals?

7. Do I act in such a way as to make my subordinates WANT to follow me?

8. Do I delegate tasks that should be mine?

9. Do I arrogate everything to myself and delegate nothing?

10. Do I develop my subordinates by placing on each one as much responsibility as he can stand?

11. Am I interested in the personal welfare of each of my subordinates, as if he were a member of my family?

12. Have I the calmness of voice and manner to inspire confidence, or am I inclined to irascibility and excitability?

13. Am I a constant example to my subordinates in character, dress, deportment and courtesy?

14. Am I inclined to be nice to my superiors and mean to my subordinates?

15. Is my door open to my subordinates?

16. Do I think more of POSITION than JOB?

17. Do I correct a subordinate in front of others?

Source: The West Point Way of Leadership by Col. Larry R. Donnithorne

2. Doing things differently:

Anyone can become a leader. All the characteristics and traits of leadership can be acquired through learning and practice.

Leadership is not synonymous with assertiveness, despotic behaviour or managerial position.

Assertiveness is a good quality only if it can be backed up by respect. Respect stems from various sources as outlined lower down on this page.

Management is about doing things efficiently. Leadership is about doing things differently, in new ways, in better ways. Leadership is about lateral thinking, being innovative and creative.

Leadership is not limited to the top echelon in an organisation. Any person in an organisation, who can differentiate him or her self by being inventive, can be a leader. If you display inventiveness, others will follow your direction naturally out of respect.

Leadership does not follow lines of authority. More often than not, creativity stems from the floor level nearest to the processes and problems. Leadership is therefore by no means limited to the formal structure of supervisory and managerial positions.

The role of leadership can be earned in many ways, small or big. For instance, you can display leadership and earn respect from others in the following ways:

1. Expert or superior knowledge about a subject or something

2. Excellence in execution of tasks

3. Positive attitude, high morale

4. High ethical values and codes of conduct

5. Good human relations

6. Streamlining paper work, production, methods, your use of time

7. Being innovative or creative

Innovativeness usually results in bigger leaps with more benefits and profits. It can therefore be most profitable for an employer to cultivate, encourage and support the development of creativity and risk taking in all employees.

Therefore, the most important quality to develop and the fastest way in order to become a leader, is through creativity.

3. Other needed characteristics:

3.1 Leadership traits:

You will also have to foster the following traits to retain respect:

1. Loyalty

2. Willingness to stand out, differentiate yourself, risk being rejected by being different.

3. Determination and perseverance to push through your own ideas.

4. Improvement drive – desire to find better ways of doing things, curiosity.

5. Questioning mind – not accepting authority, willingness to challenge the status quo.

6. Self-belief – believing that you can think for yourself and devise a better way.

7. Thick skin – being able to withstand criticism and recover from setbacks.

8. Learning from mistakes – being prepared to try things to find what works.

9. Trustworthiness – keeping your word, being honest.

10. Delivering on promises – like being trustworthy, you deliver what you promise.

11. Treating people with respect and fairness.

12. Not deliberately harming others.

13. Dedication to improving the lot of those you represent.

14. Management skills – the ability to get things done efficiently.

15. Strong influence skills

16. The ability to convey a compelling vision of the future.

These characteristics can be either classified under ethics or managerial skills. How do these characteristics compare with entrepreneurial traits?

3.2 The psychological traits of entrepreneurs:

1. Desire to perform

2. Drive, determination and energy

3. Goal orientation

4. Time conscious

5. Self-motivated

6. Self-control

7. Can make decisions in situations of lack of information or uncertainty

8. Take calculated risks

9. Positive self-image

10. Creative and innovative capabilities (imaginative and real)

11. High ethical standards about integrity and trustworthiness

12. Intelligence

13. Individualistic

14. More task than human oriented

15. Flourish on feedback

16. Take initiative and responsibility for their actions

17. Objective and optimistic

18. Profit is a measure of success

4. Gene Autry’s Cowboy Code of Ethics:

1. The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.

2. He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.

3. He must always tell the truth.

4. He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals.

5. He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.

6. He must help people in distress.

7. He must be a good worker.

8. He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.

9. He must respect women, parents, and his nation’s laws.

10. The Cowboy is a patriot.

Ethics is about morality in a civilised world. It is about internalised values of the individual. It is about civilised behaviour versus barbaric behaviour. It is about human behaviour versus animal behaviour. It is about civilised human behaviour on the one end versus barbaric animal behaviour on the other end of the scale.

Leadership ethics is all about where you are between the two extremes as an individual, as a worker and as a leader.

In pursuing the traits of leadership ethics with the aim of internalising the principles of leadership ethics, it will be worthwhile to try and follow all the principles outlined above.

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