Building Ethical School Climates Essay Example
Undeniably, it is very important for leadership studies to be carried out because it is evident that no one can do without leadership. We all experience leadership at some point of our lives on a daily basis. We have leaders in our homes, schools, churches, as well as at our places of work. Different leaders represent different things and tasks. Not all leaders are suited to lead the same crowd or even to lead the same way. As a result, there a number of leaders with different specialization. For instance, there are political leaders, religious leaders, and academic leaders. Nevertheless, all leaders have so similar characteristics that make a leader, and some of this characteristic is the fact that leaders ought to be ethical.
Ethical behavior simply means knowing to do the right thing. However, the right thing is difficult to define since it means different thing to different individual, culture, and religion. Therefore, most people tend to define ethics and morality as one thing. However, ethical leadership is the one built on the rule of promoting the best interest of the leader’s followers. It involves the ability to recognize the best interest of the followers and acting further on those interests in a way that does not interrupt on the rights of others. The ethics are more concern with public relation unlike the morality which is more private and concern with personal relationships. Ethical leadership maximizes the good results for the greatest numbers of the followers without affecting anyone’s rights. Ethical leaders are made of decisions and choices that they make when they encounter difficult situations that prevent them from violating other people’s rights and freedom. Everybody has the capacity to make a decision by the ethical leaders make choices that they do not regret. They are built with extra-ordinary responsibility within themselves of every action they take (Kidwell and Christopher, 2005).
Leadership is one of the cornerstones of success in any given school. In the contemporary world of learning institutions. Leadership is seen as one of the important competitive factors if well utilized. To realize organizational goals, leaders are obligated to, offer not only inspiration and motivation, but also a clear direction to their team members. Generally, leadership helps schools through providing a clear vision, effective planning, new ideas, inspiration and motivation, effective students, and most importantly crisis management. Ethical leaders are expected to be all round and well mannered.. Ethical leaders can be said to be using a combination of an authoritative and charismatic leadership styles. Authoritative leaders are known for mobilizing their teams towards a universal vision and put their focus on end goals, but leaving the means of realizing those goals up to the team members. This type of leadership is important especially when the school is pursuing new vision due to a changed learning strategies Nevertheless, this type of leadership is not suitable for a leader working with a team with greater know-how than him/her in a given area. On the other hand, charismatic leaders have the capability of motivating the team members to realize almost anything on which they base their objectives (Kidwell and Christopher, 2005). They tend to use feelings to inspire obligation and devotions in team-members.
This is a question that is commonly asked, but it has not quite been answered in a way that many can comprehend. The leader and the follower are often accorded different sets of moral constraint for a number of reasons. To start with, leaders are expected to carry themselves in a certain way that is admirable to the society. Any type of a leader is expected to be a role model in the society and the entire society puts a lot of hope in them. This is not the same as the follower. The follower looks up to the leader and expects so much from the leader. For this reason, the two cannot be accorder one set of moral constraints (Sean et al., 2011). Nonetheless, Most people believe that just because they are leaders, they have a certain power over their followers, However, this has been proven wrong due to the fact that just because one is a leader it does not mean that they are more superior than their followers. In a more practical world, we have had situations where leaders are less superior that the people they are leading. For this reason, leaders ought to be accorded all the respect they deserve. Likewise, leaders should also accord his/her followers the respect that they deserve. First and foremost, there are a number of moral constraints in leadership experienced by almost every leader and also in followership.
Leaders think of themselves as special people with obligations which other people do not have. Obligations that leaders have relate to the interests and goals of the people being led. The ones being led license particular actions which only the leaders are allowed to take. This makes the leaders to make exceptions from moral standards that are accepted generally for themselves. Although they mostly do so justifiably, they get it wrong sometimes. This subjects them to moral failure. This is a moral failure that is not a matter of bad desire, but falsely believe and it is a major constraint in leadership. It is a cognitive failure. A good example of such a failure is when Thabo Mbeki, president of South Africa issued a statement which stated that it was not undoubtedly clear that AIDS was caused by the HIV virus (Sean et al., 2011).
Leaders however, can also be selfish since they are human beings just like any other person. Some leaders take advantage of their position and do what they clearly know is wrong simply because they think they can get away with it. The South African president thought that pharmaceuticals industries had the intention of scaring people so that they can raise the their profits. This statement was irresponsible, shocking and it resulted in the reduction of efforts to fight and stop the AIDS epidemic. The president’s actions were unethical but as for him, he thought he was doing the right thing. Often people think and say that a higher moral standard should be held for all leaders. However, I beg to differ because the one thing in regard to morality is that when moral standards are set high only a few will qualify to be called leaders. In fact, only a few people will want to be leaders. This in turn will create dissatisfied followers with followers because only a few leaders if any will manage to live up to the follower’s expectations (Kidwell and Christopher, 2005). This becomes a constraint not only for leaders, but also to the followers being led. On the contrary, if we set our very low standards we reduce our leader to the worse, which is not more than just following the law. Laws are not able to capture the complexity and the scope of morality. For instance, one can follow the law, but have no concern for the poor or the disadvantaged in the society. Not having any concern for these people is certainly not against the law.
Altruism has commonly been used by leadership scholars as a moral standard effective in ethical leadership. This is problematic because it refers to extreme types of behavior as it is a very high personal standard. Altruism is all about self-sacrifice. Altruism leaders will choose to do a certain job not because they like it or expect rewards, but just because they have dedicated themselves to serving others. A good example of an altruist leader is Mother Teresa. Altruism is also commonly shown in military leaders who sacrifice themselves for the good of others. The issue with altruism is the fact that it does not guarantee moral action. For instance, one may steal from the rich and give to the poor and this is morally problematic (Kidwell and Christopher, 2005). Another constraint on leadership is being just. One would think that a just person will make a good leader, but this is not always the case. In fac, studies shows that a just person would only agree to be a leader for the fear of being punished. This becomes a problem to both leadership and followership because the just person will not be comfortable to lead and will actually show some reluctance to enter into leadership. Ironically, people will be comfortable with such a leader because most people fear that people who show eagerness to rule want the position and power for their own selfish gain
In a number of ways modern societies accept and understand the difference between legal and ethical obligation in leadership. We have seen clearly that the law cannot cover the complexity and scope of morality. This has everything to do with our sense of virtue. Good virtues are, not just what is written in the law, but also what we consider moral in our society. Democracy on the other hand is the freedom to participate in decision making. Democratic decisions are not a problem or obstacle to leadership, but democracy requires to be learned and it also requires continuous keenness. Political leaders therefore must take responsibility to a moral sense of democracy. Democracy should therefore not be limited by what is stipulated in the law, but it should also consider what is moral (Sean et al., 2011).
Schools like any other business are run in a hierarchy of authority which is usually designed to benefit the whole organization. This hierarchial authority in schools ensures the schools grow with the strength of competent managerial staff while the other stakeholders look upon the management to provide quality development. The hierarchy authority is very vital as it is the best method to maintain leadership integrity since, if the leader does not prove competence then he/she experience employee turnover (Ciulla, 2003). Therefore, the hierarchial authority in schools is significant to the sustained success of the institution. The hierarchial nature of running school institutions has the implication to the leader. It implies that the heads are leaders at the same time followers. Education sector in every nation is run and managed by the central government of the particular country. Therefore the responsibility of running this institution be it private or public is upon the government therefore all the leaders are answerable to their superior leader the government ministries of education.
The students are answerable to their teacher in terms of education, performance and discipline, while the teachers are answerable to the deputy principal who is under the leadership of the principal. The principal on the other hand is answerable to the parents who are also stakeholders as well as the government which is the overall manager. This makes the leaders to be in positions of leadership and follower simultaneous. The hierarchy, authority within school, which ensures that the leaders are in the position of leaders and followers simultaneously, which build managerial tension within educational institutions (Kaplan and Owings, 2009). It creates the moral senses that leaders understand the followers have needs too. It is also responsible to create the implication that leaders and followers can’t exist without each other. Therefore, the roles of leadership and those of followers should be incorporated to ensure success in this institution. Leadership is not the role leaders to their followers, but the roles the leaders do with their followers. A leader getting to the follower position at one time makes them understand the followers thus before a leader learns to lead he/she must learn to follow.
This role of leaders learning to follow is important to the school’s success. The leader-follower integration ensures accountability within an organization. Most organizations learn through hierarchy leadership ensure managerial accountability in every project especially finances. It also emphasizes on the moral role of guidance as stakeholder development takes part in all the levels of the schools. The students look at their teachers and other leaders to develop learning while the principal work with the board of governors and the government to improve the whole running of the institution (Linda and Michael, 2005). The hierarchy running of school gives the clear path for all stakeholders involved in running the school. Finally, these give the moral sense of easy communication within the institution concerns every hierarchy has its own role. This eventually ensures teachers satisfaction, principal leadership; academic expectation and parental development are constituted within the school climate.
Ethical leadership is very significant for the success of every organization. It is a duty of a leader to learn from those who are unethical through observation and acting to the contrary of them. Being an ethical leader means going far beyond being a good person. While unethical people make no effort to make ethics constituent in their set standards, agendas and accountability, the leader should learn how to capitalize ethics in these important areas. The leader should ethically model appropriate behavior, set standards and go further to being accountable. Leaders must learn to create policies as well as practices in school institutions or business organization to prevent being unethical (Kidwell and Christopher, 2005).
There must be strict consequences of violating the set of ethics laid upon by the institution. Most unethical personnel have policies too, but they lack the practice to exercise and preach them. Leaders should articulate these policies created in their followers’ handbook to preach them and protection of these policies should be their major concern. Unethical leaders do not possess the quality of hire right. A leader should select the quality people within the institution since this makes a very big difference in the ethics of this organization. This is usually due through behavior- based questions during hiring where the leader asks the employee to describe a situation where they have ever acted ethically even if it’s against social or cultural norms (Johnson, 2012). Ethical employees lead to ethical leadership, hence a healthy institution. The leader must develop peoples understanding if they have to become ethical leaders. Unethical leaders to not take time to develop people’s understanding, but rather develop policies for reporting ethics violation which has no mush impact to ethical leadership. Staff understanding is a very important lesson a leader must learn from those who are en ethical. Leaders must learn to build the culture of openness, transparency and communication. Management of a school is not easy and to ensure success when it comes to institution ethics people must feel free to stand up and talk comfortably.
An ethical leader must learn to put things in control in the place of work. Just like the business organizations ethical leaders running a school must learn to have regular audits to help reduce the opportunities to act unethically. Finally, the leader must learn to walk the talk the importance of policies and process, communication as well as openness all day. They must also learn to torment unethical leadership with the other administration of the institution. Ethical leaders have also been seen on occasion failing and acting unethically. The followership dynamics has been mainly attributed with contribution to unethical behavior. Due to the flexibility with the leadership as one feel no ownership in the institution a leader often finds him /her forgetting the interest of some stakeholders. The school leader might focus on the teachers and government issues for forgetting the student affair. Another major contribution of unethical behavior is a mind game. The process of formulating policies of an organization is tricky and one easily finds him/herself not satisfying the whole stakeholders’ interests which have consequences (Ciulla, 2003).
In conclusion, it is evident that leadership is important for the success of any school. Nevertheless, ethical leadership, should be practiced by all leaders to ensure effectiveness in leadership. Ethical behavior simply means knowing to do the right thing. However, the right thing is difficult to define since it means different things in different individual, culture, and religion. Therefore, most people tend to define ethics and morality as one thing. However, ethical leadership is the one built on the rule of promoting the best interest of the leader followers. It involves the ability to recognize the best interest of the followers and acting further to those interests in way to that does not interrupt on the rights of others. The ethics is more concern with public relation unlike the morality which is more private and concern with personal relationships. Ethical leadership maximizes the good results for the greatest numbers of the followers without affecting anyone’s rights. Ethical leaders are made of decisions and choices that they make when they encounter difficult situations that prevent them from violating other people’s rights and freedom. Everybody has the capacity to make a decision by the ethical leaders make choices that they do not regret. They are built with extra-ordinary responsibility within themselves of every action they take.
Ciulla, J. B. (2003). The ethics of leadership. Belmont, Calif: Thomson/Wadsworth.
Johnson, C. E. (2012). Meeting the ethical challenges of leadership: Casting light or shadow. Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE.
Kaplan, L. S., & Owings, W. A. (2009). American education: Building a common foundation. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Kidwell, R. E, and Christopher L. M. (2005) Managing Organizational Deviance. Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE,.
Linda K.T,. and Michael E. B. (2005). The Role of Leaders in Influencing Unethical Behavior in the Workplace: Sage Publications
Sean T. H., Bruce J. A., and Fred O. Walumbwa (2011). Relationships Between Authentic Leadership,Moral Courage, and Ethical and Pro-Social Behaviors. Business Quarterly Vol 21, Issue 4,Pages 555-578.