Do We Really Want More Leaders in Business?

Journal of Business Ethics 17 (15):1727 - 1736 (1998)
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In this article, we focus on the concept of leadership ethics and make observations about transformational, transactional and servant leadership. We consider differences in how each definition of leadership outlines what the leader is supposed to achieve, and how the leader treats people in the organization while striving to achieve the organization's goals. We also consider which leadership styles are likely to be more popular in organizations that strive to maximize short run profits. Our paper does not tout or degrade any of these leadership theories. Instead, it points out which theories allow reason to play more than a minimal role in ethical decision-making, as well as those that are most consistent with a firm's desire to achieve efficiency in the short run. We explain our view that the way leadership is practiced in large, bureaucratic organizations suggests that ethics is often absent from the leader's decision-making process. Consequently, we suggest that before we engage in a meaningful dialogue about what kind of leaders we might really want in business, we must consider how much short-run profit we are willing to forego in exchange for more ethical corporate cultures



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