Leadership Ethics: Mapping the Territory
Joanne B. Ciulla
We live in a world where leaders are often morally disappointing. Even the greats of the past, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., and George Washington, are diminished by probing biographers who document their ethical shortcomings. It's hard to have heroes in a world where every wart and wrinkle of a person's life is public. Ironically, the increase in information that we have about leaders has increased the confusion over the ethics of leadership. The more defective our leaders are, the greater our longing to have highly ethical leaders. The ethical issues of leadership are found not only in public debates, they also lie embedded below the surface of the existing leadership literature.
Most scholars and practitioners who write about leadership genuflect at the altar of ethics and speak with hushed reverence about its importance to leadership. Somewhere in almost any book devoted to the subject, there are either a few sentences, paragraphs, pages, or even a chapter on how integrity and strong ethical values are crucial to leadership. Yet, given the central role of ethics in the practice of leadership, it's remarkable that there has been little in the way of sustained and systematic treatment of the subject by scholars. A literature search of 1,800 article abstracts from psychology, business, religion, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, and political science