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How can I be an Ethical Leader?

How Can I be an Ethical Leader?

How Can I be an Ethical Leader?

Good leadership has a strong moral / ethical component, because when leadership is unethical and immoral, all hell breaks loose.

Ethical leaders should be:

  1. Honest.
  2. Hard working.
  3. Peaceable.
  4. Co-operative.
  5. Have Integrity.

What is ethics?

Ethics is a branch of philosophy. Ethics teaches people how they should act, especially in their relationships with others. Because there are many different philosophies, there are many ethical systems from which to choose.

Religious ethics.

Many ethical principles are derived from religious philosophies. For example, as a child, I was taught the 10 commandments, which were taken from the Christian Bible. But ALL religions come complete with an ethics. Indeed, ethics is one of the main reasons children are taught religion.

Non-religious ethics.

We don't need to be religious to be ethical: Secular ethics are often as good as religious ethics. Secular Humanists have their own ethics, which boil down to, "Treat people the same way you would like to be treated".

How to be an ethical leader.

In order to be ethical, we must decide which values we should hold; and then we live by them; every day, in every way.

Non-religious ethical values for leaders,

Here is a list of non-religious ethics that I believe everyone reading this could agree with. To be ethical, we should all strive to be:

  • Honest.
  • Hard working.
  • Peaceable.
  • Co-operative.
  • Have Integrity.

Let us say a few words on each:


Honesty has two aspects:

  • Honesty in terms of speech: Leaders should tell the truth.
  • Honesty in terms of property: Leaders should never steal or defraud.


Integrity means "Always acting in accordance with ones professed beliefs":

Leaders should act in accordance with their own statements.

Some people say one thing, but do the opposite.

They lack integrity.

For leaders who have integrity, their "word is their bond".

Hard Working.

For the humans to survive, at least some people must work hard.

Laziness is a vice, since if everybody was lazy, then the human race would starve to death.

All lazy people count on non-lazy-people to "pick up the slack" that their idleness creates.

In that sense, lazy people are parasitic.

Leaders have a strong "work ethic".


For us to survive, we need to have peace. If there were no peace, then there would be no survival.

Aggressive, warlike leaders lead their followers to destruction.

Ethical leaders (eg Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King) believe in living by peaceable thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.

Ethical leaders are interested in peace, not war.


When we act as individuals, we are not a particularly impressive species. Compared to other animals, we are not particularly big, we cannot fly, we have no claws, we cannot run fast, we cannot swim well. But when humans cooperate, and work together, then we can do amazing things.

Leaders should inspire cooperation.

Cooperation is a virtue and an ethical good.

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About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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