Unethical Leadership Research Paper

Pages: 10 (2942 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Leadership

For that reason, values and ethics are the significant factors in dealing these employees evolution.

In short, leaders who connect with, allow, or encourage unethical acts within their organizations do not put ethical leadership on show. In its place, those who control and implant unethical behavior of their supporters exhibit unethical leadership. To cut a long story short, unethical leadership can be described as "behaviors conducted and decisions made by organizational leaders that are illegal and/or violate moral standards, and those that impose processes and structures that promote unethical conduct by followers" (Brown & Mitchell, 2010).

Precursors of Unethical Leadership

According to some studies, unethical leader behavior is a response to organizational oppression, maltreatment or exploitation. When the leaders are ill-treated, it increases strain reactions giving rise to the leaders' feelings of subjection, incapacity and despair causing him/her to behave more belligerently toward the human resources. Leaders may employ unethical conduct for the reason that they sever their connections from moral standards and reduce unethical treatment toward their employees. According to research, leaders with a strong social domination orientation are more expected to take on unethical behavior, mainly when cohorts were more pleasant and/or elevated in right wing totalitarianism (Brown & Mitchell, 2010).Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Thus, it can be said that unethical leadership can spring from moral segregation when leaders do not consider an assistant is one for whom ethics are relevant. Leaders who are unlike their subordinates believe that it is correct to treat them in an abusive manner. Leaders with a high level of narcissism and neuroticism are found to behave unethically over and over again. This is because as they lack a moral individuality. These individuals have an intense love of self, a strong need for appreciation and an ostentatious sense of superiority and privilege (Lowe & Reckers, 2012). On the other hand, when there is a deep-level similarity i.e. values, morals and conducts are similar, it influences leader-follower relational disagreement and connected leader mistreatment (Brown & Mitchell, 2010).

Effects of Unethical Leadership

The wrong and corrupt behavior of leaders can be put side by side to the formation of cyclones, a "perfect tornado" resulting from the combined consequence of turning winds, temperature, and atmospheric pressure. In the same way, unethical behavior of leaders crop up when a conflux of aspects interact between leaders (gyratory winds), subordinates (ramming hot and cold temperatures) and the circumstantial background (atmospheric conditions). It is then catalyzed by a grave occurrence or trigger event that pulls the whole lot into its axis, comparable to the whirlpool of a cyclone (Chandler, 2009).

As tornadic activity is not easily predictable and may result in destructive property loss, personal injury, and death, unethical leadership behavior also harms everyone including leaders, followers, and organizations. Unethical behavior can also be compared to a cancer as it also possesses the eroding quality that can affect both personal and professional levels (Chandler, 2009).

Unethical leadership slows down and encumbers the efficient performance and practicability of organizations. Due to unethical leader behavior, there is an increase in "absenteeism, health care costs, lost productivity, and expended costs associated with defending actionable claims" (Brown & Mitchell, 2010). In some cases, unethical leadership has resulted in the dissolution of the organization all in all. Unethical leadership also has a considerable effect on the employees. The employees' conduct and attitudes are negatively influenced by unethical leadership. Not only this, unethical leadership also affects the task and extra-role performance, struggle behaviors, mental comfort, and private lives of the employees (Brown & Mitchell, 2010).

On the other hand, unethical leadership has a positive effect on deviant and unprincipled work behavior among the workforce. Leaders are mainly dominant for the reason that they consent to the unethical behavior through their individual acts, approving abilities, and lawful authority. As already mentioned, unethical leadership provides a baseline of manners that controls and manipulates the decisions of the followers (Brown & Mitchell, 2010).

When employees are treated in an abusive and insulting way by their unethical leaders, their work attitudes suffer as a consequence. Such offensive treatment by leaders also enhances penalizing behavior. Above all, unethical leadership consumes the self-resources of the followers (e.g., awareness, strength of will, respect) that are needed to preserve the right kind of behavior. For that reason, when an unethical leader victimizes or threatens an employee, the employees' self-resources get impaired or marginalized (Brown & Mitchell, 2010).

Thus, when such resources of self-regulation are weakened, victims are not capable to maintain proper behavior and in its place take on unexpected behavior. Individuals do their best to attain and retain resources that facilitate them achieve their targets. However, when faced with unethical leader treatment, these individuals have their resources drained causing a spill-over effect to his/her personal and professional life. They find themselves incapable of maintaining a positive work attitude and engage in creative work behavior. As a consequence, they spend a frustrated life with an increased work-family conflict (Brown & Mitchell, 2010).

How to Develop Ethical Leadership Character?

Ethical leadership can be developed and flourished by assessing and evaluating one's inner character. Inner character is the resultant of personal pains and suffering, career impediments, blunders and failures. The examination of one's inner self allows the leaders to grow in character. In order to become an ethical leader, it is required of the leader to constantly question and reconsider his/her deeply held values and authenticity. The process of transforming involves personal alterations, and it is required of the ethical leader to constantly transform him/her. In order to be ethically strong, a leader needs to demonstrate moral efficacy. Moral efficacy can be defined as "an individual's belief in his or her capabilities to organize and mobilize the motivation, cognitive resources, means, and courses of action needed to attain moral performance within a given moral domain, while persisting in the face of moral adversity" (as qtd. In Schaubroeck, Hannah, Avolio, Kozlowski, Lord, Trevino, Dimotakis & Peng, 2012).


True and efficient leadership is that in which the conduct and mannerism of the leader and the implementation of the leadership influence method are steady with moral and honest values. When the ethical toughness of the leader is in doubt, then the leader's vision -yet dignified, well crafted, and coherent -is viewed with cynicism by the subordinates, loses its vitality, and is not sufficiently competent. Without a doubt, there are cases of unethical leaders who have fashioned booming organizations. However, the long-term quality of such headship is extremely doubtful. The success and survival of an organization over the lasting time is reliant on ethical leadership.

To sum up, it is not acceptable for organizational leaders to be uninterested to moral responsibility. It is indeed a challenge for organizational leaders in the twenty-first century to practice ethical leadership in an effective and efficient manner.


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Webber, J.K., Goussak, G.W., & Ser, E.M. (2012). Common Sense Leadership: Evidence From Senior Leaders. Global Journal of Business… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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