Ethical behavior and moral leadership in the business community are too often reflections of the ideal rather than the rule. A moral upbringing can give an individual a base on which to define behavior, and, as long as the individual continues to believe in living and working together for the common good, which is a simplistic definition of an acceptable value system (Papoutsy), ethical behavior is the result. There are specific basic values that have been established over time, not just in America but worldwide. These are integrity, quality, commitment, and innovation (“Core Values”) and are values that define the global corporate identity. Leadership, which establishes the corporate identity, is difficult to delineate in terms of moral leadership, mainly because leadership is about the “influence of individual character and the impact of personal mentoring” (Gini, Structural Restraints, par. 11), while moral leadership is considered a reflection of acceptable organizational values. According to Paul Hoffman, core values are what define individuals while ethics are demonstrated through behavior. Values are constant but ethics are different in different settings, and things are right, wrong, true or false, according to observed behavior. Therefore, in terms of leadership, organizational values should be reflected in leadership behavior and if not, the leader’s commitment to these values is questionable. Organizational failure can be attributed to personal greed over expressed organizational values....
The situation has changed in a global business community, and companies are beginning to realize they must earn the respect and confidence of their customers (Business Ethics). Ethical behavior in business is under more scrutiny than ever before, mainly because of recent events-9/11, Enron, terrorism and the war in Iraq, along with a devastating economy and an unexpected number of environmental disasters. Unfortunately, these events have not necessarily led to more socially responsible corporate behavior, but the spotlight continues to be on the business world at present. The leadership in American corporations has had to acknowledge the global marketplace and the need to expand their companies to include multinational firms and increased use of information technology (IT). This in turn creates a need to understand the values and ethics of foreign cultures; often quite different from the Puritanical conscience that defines American culture. Leadership in the corporate arena must reflect an understanding of what the public wants and needs, not just how to increase the bottom line.
Defining Leadership in the Global Economy
It has been necessary in our new world economy to redefine leadership. What is leadership Why do some people lead and others follow Is it a learned behavior or is it inherent Successful leadership happens in an interactive relational context in which an attempt is being made by a group to make a difference to benefit the common good (Lucas et al: Relational Leadership). This is a foundational philosophy that can provide a frame of reference in contemporary organizations, and when leadership embraces this philosophy, all facets of the organization will benefit. Aspects of ethical leadership include the following: