Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Ethical Leadership and Teachers’ Voice Behavior: The Mediating Roles of Ethical Culture and Psychological Safety

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Ethical Leadership and Teachers’ Voice Behavior: The Mediating Roles of Ethical Culture and Psychological Safety

Article excerpt

Ethics is directly related to leadership in organizational life. According to Ciulla (1995), ethics is at the heart of leadership research. Definitions of leadership related to ethics are focused on how leaders ought to behave (Philipp & Lopez, 2013). Ciulla (1995) asserted that, instead of what is leadership, the real question to ask in leadership research should be what is good leadership by considering good ethically. Researchers have begun to examine ethical leadership as a distinct leadership style rather than as an element of other leadership styles focused on ethics (Kalshoven, Den Hartog, & De Hoogh, 2011). The thought that ethical leaders will influence followers' behavior by being a model to them emphasizes the importance of ethics in terms of leadership (Calabrese & Roberts, 2001; Lu & Lin, 2014). Brown, Trevino, and Harrison (2005) stated that ethical leaders are honest and fair in their decisions. De Hoogh and Den Hartog (2008) asserted that these leaders create a fair and principled structure, listen to subordinates' ideas, join them in the decision-making process, and as such share power.

Ethical leaders draw attention to ethics. They continuously address the concept, keep it on the agenda, and provide a voice for their followers in their interpersonal relations (Brown et al., 2005). Described as a form of organizational-citizenship behavior, voice is defined as change-oriented communication with the purpose of correcting a situation (Avey, Wernsing, & Palanski, 2012). Voice behavior modifies standard procedures and offers innovative proposals that aspire to change (Van Dyne & LePine, 1998). Ethical leaders promote subordinates' ideas and create a climate of mutual respect. Followers in such work environments express different views and feel safe (Walumbwa & Schaubroeck, 2009). In order to have personnel exhibit voice behavior in an organization, safety is very important. Voice behavior refers to a position of taking risks. As long as personnel feel unsafe, they will not speak up (Avey et al., 2012; Van Dyne, Ang, & Botero, 2003).

While organizational culture affects leadership development, leaders greatly enhance organizational culture (Bass & Avolio, 1993). Leaders have a responsibility to institutionalize the standards of morality and ethical behaviors that will guide their followers (Grojean, Resick, Dickson, & Smith, 2004). Ethical leaders play an important role in developing and maintaining ethical organizational culture (Avey et al., 2012). According to Brown et al. (2005), ethical leaders set the standards, reward ethical behavior, and discipline those who don't meet these standards. In other words, they use rewards and punishments to promote ethical behavior; they decide in accordance with ethics, thus creating a fair and principled system within the organization. Strong ethical culture in the organization leads members to feel safe.

As educational organizations are based on values, moral acts exist at the center of leadership relations (Greenfield, 2004). The literature states a high need of awareness for the importance of ethics in educational leaders' actions and decisions (Campbell, 1999). In spite of this thought, one can set forth that morality, ethics, and ethical leadership are often discussed theoretically in educational organizations but rarely been given an opportunity in empirical research up to the present. As shown in Figure 1, the aim of the research is to investigate the mediating effects of organizational ethical culture and psychological safety on the relationship between ethical leadership and teachers' voice behavior.

Theoretical Background and Hypotheses

Ethical Leadership

In leadership theories, ethics is defined as an element. In particular, it is integrated as an element into transformational, authentic, spiritual, and servant leadership theories (Eisenbeiss, 2012; Kalshoven et al., 2011). Researchers have begun to examine ethical leadership as a distinct leadership style (Kalshoven et al. …

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