Purposeful Leadership and Ethics are Inseparable

Foremost in the list of essential knowledge for aspiring leaders is the understanding of the nature of action, its causes and effects. The study of action cannot be isolated from the motivation for action and how human desires, values and ethics influence thoughts and drive actions.

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Can Actions be Divorced from Ethics?

No.

Purposeful Actions cannot be divorced from ethics. To be meaningful and fulfilling, no action can be divorced from ethics. Purposeful actions are ethical actions driven by an internally-derived vision aimed at serving others, beyond just serving self. The hallmark of purposeful leadership is service to those who are led.

Foremost in the list of essential knowledge for aspiring leaders is the understanding of the nature of action, its causes and effects. The study of action cannot be isolated from the motivation for action and how human desires, values and ethics influence thoughts and drive actions.

But what do desires have to do with the actions and workings of organizations?

Paradoxically, the answer is found through another question: who determines what the organization stands for?

Surely, individuals determine how the organization should act and operate — even if the few in power direct the actions of the many. Individuals drive and, through their levels of desire, determine the course of actions for the organization. Desires of organizations are expressed through the beliefs or values of the individuals in control, and these values in turn determine the ethical balance of the organization. The value system of an organization can be expressed verbally or as a set of ethical guidelines, which sometimes might be documented as a code of conduct or organizational credos. The degree to which guidelines are applied when making decisions to act, determines the ethical course of the individual or organization — and whether it is purposeful or not.

Another question about Purposeful Leadership and Ethics is who holds the power to influence and control the behavior of the organization?

In most cases, the Leader, such as the CEO in a corporation has the power and control. However, this is not always the case. There are instances where the person in power is not the Leader. Likewise, there are organizations where the Leaders does not have the power to control the overall destiny of the organization. A professional football team provides a good example. The team owner has the ultimate power and control over the team, but generally is not the leader. However, the quarterback is the leader during the course of the game, but lacks power and control over the other players.

Power is accompanied by the responsibility to make the right business as well as ethical choice for the organization. When ethics are compromised, disaster can strike the person or persons in power and the organization. There are many examples of this in business and politics – Enron, Wall Street Banks, Watergate, etc.

Here are four key considerations about Purposeful Leadership and Ethics:

  • nexusdarkerfontcoverPurposeful Leadership cannot be divorced from ethics, just as purposeful action cannot be divorced from giving and taking.
  • Leadership, management, entrepreneurship and all other roles in the business world are built upon the common foundation of action. That is to say, Leadership and all other functions in an organization constitute particular subsets of the general model for action.
  • The learning and practice of leadership requires the study and effective performance of action, albeit in a specific manner.
  • Purpose derived from reflection results in action that serves others. This leads to the premise: Purposeful leaders are Servant Leaders.

You can learn more about Leadership and Ethics from Prem Chopra’s latest book: Masters of the Game.

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