Theme 4


Theme 4 – Ethical leadership

Ethical leadership: argument for and against the relevance of the topic to the study of leadership in organisations

Ethical leadership has been defined as doing what is right for the organization, while organizing the self-interests by the organizational leadership for the benefit of all the organizational stakeholders (Ridley, 2007). Ethical leadership is relevant because it leads the organization in fulfilment its objectives, while also caring for the interest of the broader society (Bai and Morris, 2014). However, the definition of what is good or bad can be complicated and contradictory, and the definition of what is good or bad is depend on the conditions and the situations, as well as the social-cultural context (Evans, 1970). Nevertheless, the power that comes with become a leader has the potential of utilized well the organization and its stakeholders, or not good for the others who are not in the position of power (Yueru, 2013).

According to Rubin et al. (2010), ethical behaviour on the part of a leader can improve the effectiveness of both leader and the organization. However, there is an opposing point to ethical leadership as a source of effectiveness for the leader and organization. The argument holds that the leadership should be based on cognition, where the leader should be more focused on the application of his or her own mind for reason, problem solving and decision making, not the ethical standards, which requires the leader to focus on the surface to gain leadership strategies (Vinkhuyzen and Karlsson, 2014).

The argument opposing ethical leadership as a source of leadership and organizational effectiveness holds that the inner cognitive abilities should define effective leaders, not the rules of ethics, which requires the leaders to be informed of the surrounding environment, and attempt to do right according to the environment surrounding them (House, 1996).

I will discuss the statement that ethical behaviour for a leader can be a source of effectiveness for the leader and the organization through Microsoft example. Microsoft is a good example of a corporate organization that has demonstrated ethical leadership, and the effect has been the enormous success of the organization in the technology sector (Shields, 2013). The values of ethical leadership are demonstrated through the fair treatment of the employees and customers (Bergen, 2011). Microsoft has been able to improve the status of its employees to the highest level within the American society, through good salaries and benefits that keep the employees motivated and able to continue highly productive (Bergen, 2011).


Microsoft treats its diverse workforce consistently; regardless of the differences in gender, race, and origin of disability through give its complete workforce an equal opportunity to exceed. In addition, considering customers, Microsoft has remained among the highly rated companies in the provision of quality products and high quality customer service to its customers (Shields, 2013). Furthermore, Microsoft has remained amongst the top rated organization in issues of corporate social responsibility (CSR), where the organization has been engaged in numerous charitable activities ever year (Bergen, 2011). In addition, financial ethics serves as a major aspect of corporate ethics, which enables the organization to avoid major financial scandal (Ridley, 2007). Microsoft has proven to be an organization with a high level of financial ethics and prudence throughout its history, and no wonder it has usually rated highly in financial performance and profitability (Bergen, 2011).

The path–goal theory of leader effectiveness model is a leadership model theory that applied by Microsoft, to make the organization successful both in leadership and organizational performance (Evans, 1970). The path–goal model requirements that the leader’s behaviour is a necessary condition for the motivation, satisfaction and effective performance of his or her subordinates (House, 1971). For example, Bill Gates has been an ethical leader, whose ethical behaviour has influenced the success of the Microsoft workforce. Since he has always handled all the employees with dignity, respect and equality, while ensure to improve their working environment and make it friendly (Shields, 2013). In this way, he has inspired a generation of capable leaders who have taken over Microsoft leadership after his retirement, and the level of motivation, performance and satisfaction has remained high amongst the workforce throughout Microsoft’s history (Bergen, 2011).

To sum up, ethical leadership is an essential concept for the achievement of the organizational objectives, since it helps to avoid scandals and immoral acts by the leaders that may lead to organizational failure. Furthermore, ethical leadership is an essential management concept, which enhances the performance, satisfaction and motivation of the workforce.


References List

Bai, X. and Morris, N. (2014). Leadership and Virtue Ethics. Public Integrity, 16(2),

173-186. Cathcart, E. (2014). Relational work: At the core of leadership. Nursing

Management, 45(3), 44-46.


Evans, M. G. (1970). The effects of supervisory behavior on the path-goal

relationship. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance. 5: 277–298.

House, R. J. (1971). A Path-Goal Theory of Leader Effectiveness. Administrative

Science Quarterly. 16, 321-328.


House, R. J., Mitchell, T. R. (1974). Path-goal theory of leadership. Journal of

Contemporary Business. 3: l–97.


House, R. J. (1996). Path-goal theory of leadership: Lessons, legacy, and a

reformulated theory. Leadership Quarterly. 7 (3): 323–352.


Bergen, J. (Mar. 18, 2011) ‘Microsoft makes World’s Most Ethical Companies list,

Apple, Google, Facebook don’t’ [Online] avaluable from: [ 27th March 2014]


Ridley, M. (2007). A Practitioner Model for Ethical Leadership. (2007). Academic

Leader, 23(6), 2-8.


Rubin,R., Dierdoff, E., Brown, M. (2010) ‘Do Ethical Leaders Get Ahead? Exploring

Ethical Leadership and promotability’ Business Ethics Quaterly 20(2) pp 215-236



Shields, A. (Feb 16, 2013). ‘Good Business: 10 Companies With Ethical Corporate

Policies’ [Online] available from [27th March 2014]


Vinkhuyzen, O. M., and Karlsson, S. I. (2014). The role of moral leadership for

sustainable production and consumption. Journal Of Cleaner Production, 2-13.


Yueru, M. (2013). Linking ethical leadership to employee creativity: knowledge

sharing and self-efficacy as mediators. Social Behavior and Personality: An

International Journal, 41(9), 9-20.



2 thoughts on “Theme 4

  1. You have good academic writing skill which clearly shown your understanding about ethical leadership. The structure is also good, and it is brilliant to provide comprehensive references ! But I think that it is better for you to have some data or figures in your blog!

    • Hello, thank you for your comment.
      I agree with you that the quantitative analysis is more convincing, I will pay attention to this for my future study.
      thanks again 🙂

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