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Applying Ethics in Leadership

Defining what is meant by ethical leadership or applying ethics to leadership is important. In the first place, ethics in leadership is to be found in the core of a person – their values. In the second place, it is about being courageous enough to always practice one’s values in every aspect of one’s life for the good of all or for the common good. Another thing that is important to define is what is meant by the common good. This concept has different meanings for different individuals. 

Therefore, the following are some definitions of what the term means. It can mean justice and liberty for everyone and especially having compassion for society’s most needy and vulnerable. Some people consider it to be acting for the good of or in the best interests of the public. Some see it as catering for the basic needs of all such as providing food, water, health care, education, shelter, and so on. Some consider it to be taking account of the needs of every member of society. More think it is about harmony and there are those who think of it as complete equity for all.

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There is a model of ethical leadership called the 4-V model, which is meant to merge the ethics within a person – their values and beliefs – with the external aspects – how one behaves. With the 4-V model, leadership develops in every individual through their inner voyage or journey. First, the person thinks about and understands their core values and eventually begins to practice these. Over time, these essential values influence one’s choices on a social, personal, and every other level. The next step after this is where the individual develops their own vision of how life around them could be altered or made different.   

The concept of vision is being able to modify one’s actions for the betterment of others to the true picture of what should be. The third step occurs in searching for the voice to give expression to the vision. Being able to claim or give voice to one’s opinion is a sure way that other will hear it. This claiming is intended to be undertaken in a convincing and genuine way so that it motivates the person who conceived the vision and others around them to put it into action. Finally, the individual then moves to the next layer of commitment, which means beginning to behave in an ethical manner and doing their utmost to ensure everything is done in a correct manner. Then, eventually, virtue itself stands up for the good of all – the common good.

Undoubtedly, it is necessary to practice virtue so that it becomes habitual behavior in the same way as traditional behaviors or other mechanical actions. It is not possible to hold ethical leadership or behavior in reserve for occasional use or issues. It should be second nature to every person whether or not they are leaders.