Ethical Leadership

Ethical Leadership

Ethical Leadership

Ethical Leadership


  • What is the place of ethics in organizational culture?
  • What constitutes good leadership?
  • How do different cultures define ethical leadership?
Ethical Leadership is the first book to rigorously explore the value of ethics in a business climate overwhelmingly driven by the need to generate profits and cut costs. Drawing on both authors' extensive experience in teaching and research, this book provides a clear, systemic model from which practical strategies can be derived for sound and effective leadership.

The authors argue convincingly for the need for ethical leadership within organizations; demonstrating its importance for creating a moral climate which is essential for organizational effectiveness. The book begins with reviews of leadership theory and research as well as an overview of ethical theories. It goes on to examine morality in terms of leadership, suggesting the principles upon which leaders should make their judgements. In order to align business needs and best ethical practice, and in the face of ever louder demands for good governance and corporate social responsibility, leaders need to be role models whose motivation should be altruistic and work to the benefit of others and the organization.

In building their theory on what constitutes ethical leadership based on an integration of classical philosophy with contemporary psychological theory, the authors have looked not only at individual and team performances, but have investigated what constitutes ethical and moral values in Western and non-Western cultures. This is followed by discussion of models that can help to overcome cultural differences with a view to creating an effective leadership approach in our varied global market economy.

Ethical Leadership is essential reading for upper level undergraduate, postgraduate and MBA students of business, management and psychology as well as practitioners in those fields. It will help future and established professionals understand the nature and potential benefits of ethical leadership in organizational settings.


The need to explore the phenomenon of ethical leadership in organizations is prompted by the increasing societal concern that it is unacceptable for organizational leaders to be indifferent to moral responsibility, much less engage in unethical behaviour. Ethics is to leadership in organizations what the thread is to the spider web hanging from a fence. The thread enables the spider to lower himself and weave his fabric, stretching out to every corner. That thread sustains the whole framework of the web; without it everything loosens. Just as the thread serves the spider to weave the fabric and sustain it, in much the same way, the leader's moral integrity moves and sustains the followers’ effort to achieve the common goals of human welfare at personal, organizational, and societal levels.

It is this fundamentally crucial role of the leader that led us ten years ago to examine the behavioural dimensions of ethical leadership. At that time, we found that the issue of ethics in leadership roles was paid scant attention in both the psychological and the management literature on leadership. To address this lack of interest in ethical leadership, we proposed a threedimensional behavioural framework for the study of the topic in our 1996 book on Ethical Dimensions of Leadership. During the past ten years, we have noticed an increasing interest in the study of ethical leadership for better understanding of the phenomenon among behavioural scientists, and management scholars and practitioners. This was clearly evident to us in a McGill University symposium on the topic in 1999 attended by scholars and practitioners belonging to educational, medical, government and business organizations. Following soon after was the first Special Issue of the Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences in December 2001, devoted entirely to ethical leadership and governance in organizations.

This upsurge of interest in the role of ethics in organizational leadership and governance became an impetus for us to revise and update our earlier work (Kanungo & Mendonca, 1996) and write this book. In this book, we have adopted and improved upon the three-dimensional framework of ethical leadership presented in our 1996 book and used materials related to the framework from that book. But the present book goes far beyond this by meeting several deficiencies in our previous work. Specifically, the book critically analyses various theories of moral behaviour or ethics and shows how they can be related to various leadership roles. This . . .

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