Leadership and Ethics

Leadership and Ethics


The development of a company cannot without a good leadership. So, what is the leadership? About the definition of the leadership, there are a lot of different description from different persons. The debate of leadership’s definition has continued by many hundreds of years. Stogdill (1974) concluded that there are how many persons have define the concept then there are how many different definitions of leadership. In my opinion, the leadership is means that the person can lead the organization become successful. However, there are many ways to be successful, including some illegal ways. Then the good leadership should be the ethics leadership.


For ethics leadership, there are 2 principle areas of study: Deontological Ethics and Teleological Ethics. The different between the deontological ethics and teleological ethics is that the judgment conditions are different. Ciulla (2003) indicated that for the deontological ethics, leader’s actions only depending on these actions whether according to his or her ethical standards. On the other hand, for the teleological ethics, result whether bringing a morally good influence. Furthermore, there are three approaches to outcomes whether leaders are ethical. First at all, according to the ethical egoism, the actions of leaders are obtaining the greatest earning for company. Secondly, utilitarianism consults that the actions of leaders should get the greatest benefit for the mostly people (Winston & Patterson, 2006). The last but not the least, altruism refers that the actions of leaders should consider the other’s benefit, no matter leader’s self-interests. However, for deontological ethics, an action whether ethical cannot only be judged by the result, but also on the action, behaviour, or conduct whether is inherently good.


In my opinion, using deontological ethics is better to explain the ethics leadership. Because deontological ethics focus on rational value that can preserve human dignity rather than just use them (Bolden, 2004). In addition, the deontological ethics stressed the rule of rationality, capable of universally recognized and implemented, and it easy to follow and learn. Certainly, on converse side, deontological ethics are overemphasize the power of rationality, and ignore the emotional also will drive the behaviour of human. However, teleological ethics are overemphasize the importantly of result (Sharme, 2013). The process of actions are easier to happen the behaviour for unethical, and most of the unethical behaviour are want to obtain more profit for the company. Although rationality is not the only purpose of human, because human are the sensibility organism, on the ethic, we are also need keep the rationality rather than depend sensibility.

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The most important ethic of food retail industry is keeping the safety of food. For the food retailers, they are keen to show that their merchandise are green, recycling friendly, fair trading, waste conscious, socially responsible and energy conserving. For example, in the UK, the Marks & Spencer can be called the best known food retailer, it provides £200m to execute the “eco-plan” which can make it carbon neutral in five years. Assuredly, the other major food retailers also outdone. The Co-op Group is won the Business Commitment to the Environment award because it reducing its carbon emissions by 86 percent. Tesco’s strategy involves £100m fund for sustainable environmental technology (Centre for Retail Research, 2012). Relatively, there are many companies can keeping the good ethics, and there are some companies will doing the bad ethics. There is a very famous event in China in 2008, it be called Sanlu Group event. The Sanlu Group CO., Ltd was a state-owned Chinese dairy products company, the one of its main business is baby’s milk powder. However, its milk powder has the toxic substances for baby. The China milk scandal has affecting the 294,000 babies’ health, and the Sanlu Group has be collapse and the leader of Sanlu Group has be sentenced.

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(If you want to know the detail of China milk scandal, you can read the BBC News, on http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7720404.stm)

In my opinion, the leader in the food retail industry should be more importance for the ethics, because the food is the edible. So if it has the food safety issues, it will make a great harm for eaters. Moreover, there are too many food safety scandal had be happened in worldwide. Firstly, the leaders in food retail industry have same responsibility as other leaders. These responsibility include CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), employee benefits, profitability. Furthermore, the leaders in food retail industry also have the special responsibility for this industry. For example, the most important precautions is the food safety. The service after the selling and regulatory are also very important. In the food industry, the retailers must keep their conscience, when they face a huge of benefit.


Bolden, R. (2004). What is Leadership? University of Exeter, Centre for Leadership Studies.

Centre for Retail Research (2012) Retail Ethics and Green Retailing 2012. [Online] Available at: http://www.retailresearch.org/retailethics.php [Accessed 4 May 2015].

Ciulla, J. B. (2003) The Ethics of Leadership. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thompson. pp. 302 – 327.

Sharme, M. K., & Jain, S. (2013). Leadership Management: Principles, Models and Theories. Global Journal of Management and Business Studies. Vol. 3. No. 3. Pp. 309-318.

Stogdill, R. M. (1974) Handbook of Leadership: A Survey of Theory and Research. New York: Free Press.

Winston, B. E., & Patterson, K. (2006). An Integrative Definition of Leadership. International Journal of Leadership Studies. Vol. 1. Issue. 2. Pp. 6-66.