moral identity of a leader

Essay by conz93University, Bachelor's September 2014

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The moral identity of a leader is paramount in creating a culture where ethical behaviour is held with the upmost regard, central to the organisations vision and is mirrored through the behaviour of employees. Moral identity must be present in a leader if he or she is to be regarded as an 'ethical example' or as a "transformative leader" as developed in Caldwell, et al., (2012). This 'transformative' model of management honours the moral obligation a leader has to its followers and all stakeholders thereby reiterating ethical leadership as a central part of top management in today's business environment. Trust between followers and leaders is required if a leadership style such as the transformative leader or any other leadership approach is to be effective. Leadership can be seen to be more about the followers than the leader themselves as it is ultimately the followers not the leaders that will determine the success of a leader.

Rewarding ethical behaviour would generally have a greater bearing on maintaining and improving the ethical behaviour of subordinates in practice than merely punishing unethical behaviour

Aquino and Reed (2002) suggests that moral identity influences moral behaviour by acting as a self-regulatory mechanism embedded in people's internalized notions of wrong and right. A leader cannot be an ethical example if they themselves do not act on what is wrong and what is right because subordinates will inevitably pick up on the leader's lack of moral identity through their actions and decisions. Conversely a leader with a strong sense of moral identity is likely to behave in a highly ethical manner which in accordance with social learning theory will trickle down through employee rankings manipulating the culture of an organisation into one that values ethical behaviour and frowns upon unethical behaviour. Moreover when declaring the values and...