Ethics, the Heart of Leadership

By Joanna B. Ciulla | Go to book overview

5
Ethical Leadership,
Emotions, and Trust:
Beyond [Charisma]

Robert C. Solomon

I am a novice on the subject of leadership, but after fifteen years of research and consulting in business ethics, I have become convinced that morally sensitive leaders are the essential feature of any good organization. I have never been a leader—although one hopes that teachers and especially philosophy teachers might share a few of the attributes of leaders in terms of inspiration and impact—and I confess that, while I pride myself on my trustworthiness and loyalty, I have never been much of a follower either. Too many leaders, as Voltaire complained of heroes, [are so noisy.] Perhaps that is why I have never before delved into the subject as I should, for so much of what I have noticed about leadership is the noise.

Much of the noise has to do with the well-known but little understood phenomenon of Weberian charisma, the excited appeal supposedly generated and accordingly cultivated by leaders. Charisma, in other words, has much to do with emotion, but not just the emotion generated by leaders. It is also, first and foremost, the passion of the leader. It is strange, then, that the nature of emotion, the very heart of charisma, should have been so long neglected by leadership scholars. What has also been neglected, along with emotion, is the intimate relationship between emotion and ethics. This relationship speaks to several of the more controversial debates about leadership: the role and desirability

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