Topic 1: Leadership & Ethics

  < Let’s think about it before the body> Question: “Should the power and influence of a business organization be tempered by decisions relating to its broader social obligations and ethical responsibilities?” (Mullins, 2013, p659)  

Recently, we have watched the organizations such as big company and public institute which impaired brand image and trusts to customers on account of unethical incidents. Sometimes, it became the cause of ruin like Enron Corporation. In addition, apart from level of organization which advocates ethical management, individuals like leader and employee used to do as unethical people. Under the circumstances, I would like to address what is the ethical leadership to make the organization practice ethical management and which effects are on performances both individual and organization.

*Below topic (ethics debate) was mainly derived from CULC Module material and Korean Leadership Expert blog, and I added my opinion to it.

When it comes to ethical leadership, there is a big difficulty in treating the topic. What is ‘ethical’? Nobody can answer easy to the question. However, there are 2 main streams about the controversial issue. That is to say 2 principle theories. The one is deontological ethics; it is represented by Kant saying ‘the only intrinsically good thing is a good will i.e. actions which uphold moral law’. The other is teleological ethics (consequentialist); it is represented by Bentham saying ‘greatest good for the greatest number’. Deontological ethics emphasizes duty, that is, what must done or not done irrespective of the results and concerned with what people do, not with the consequences of their actions. After all, goodness or badness is evident in the action itself. On the contrary, according to teleological, a bad act can have good results and therefore goodness or badness is only evident in the results. Moreover, the means can be justified by the end result. In other words, the more good consequences an act produces, the better or the more right is that act (CULC knowledge caster, 2015). Ethics is the criteria which divide the right and the false affecting behaviors. After all, the thing which is ethical is represented by action but by results. It is closer concept to Kant in that actions which uphold moral law are ethical. However, apart from right or false in philosophic views, we should understand that the most ethical behavior is most strategic behavior in reality (Korea leadership expert blog, 2015). That is, too much emphasis on right action can damage unintentionally to greatest good of society. Therefore, most ethical leader is person who can draw support of majority on the basis of strict internal and external regulations.

There was a noticeable incidents related in Korea in positon of public officer. Pre-CEO of Guyng Nam construction company and law maker, Sung-Wan Jong, committed suicide. According to news media, he was an exemplary person who pursued a close relationship between political and business circles to succeed but a right business investment. He supported the illegal money to promising politician, and as a result of this, he looked like succeeding in business once. However, at the end, the company went bankrupt and he was ruined. On the contrary, most big companies such as SAMSUNG, HYUNDAI and POSCO have endeavored to break the chain of collusive ties between politics and business as an important items of ethical management and could be kept abreast of global trends. The former spoiled both individual and organization, the latter prospered those. Which we should choose?

An unethical behavior of leader and employee can damage drastically to the company, and moreover, ruin it. Therefore, personal experts want to hire ethical job seekers. However, more importantly, it needs to upgrade the level of ethical leadership for current employee (Korean leadership expert blog, 2014). Considering that the companies implement ethical management for sustainable growth, it is important to help employee make agreeable ethic criteria and practice little by little. With the effect of globalization, ethical management become not a problem of choice but mandatory duty. For this, leaders and managers should regularly diagnose the level of ethics for the employee and prescribe according to the diagnosis including incentives to enhance ethics level.


Laurie J. Mullins (2013), Management & Organizational Behavior, 10th Edition, PEARSON

Knowledge Cast material (2015), CULC

Reed, G. (2012). Leading questions: Leadership, ethics, and administrative evil. Leadership

Rost, J. (1995). Leadership: A Discussion about Ethics. Business Ethics Quarterly

Korean leadership expert blog (2014),  Korean letter)

HR Grapevein(2014), Why are the ethics important in leardership?


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