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In recent years, many organizations have been trying to hire ethical leadership. We’ve all heard about scandals in the news like Enron and WorldCom. It would seem that people in leadership positions were willing to commit the ultimate crime: the destruction of an entire company and its entire workforce for their own gain.

But what is the difference between a leader who has ethics and one who does not? Before we dive into the difference between good leaders and bad leaders, let’s discuss just what leadership is in simple terms.

What is Leadership?

Leadership is the process by which an individual influences, guides and motivates others to accomplish a common goal. Leadership can be both formal and informal. For example, a CEO of a company is typically the leader of their organization and has several layers of leadership below them such as managers, supervisors, and team leaders. Leadership may also be more informal such as when one person encourages another to help them carry something up the stairs.

A leader is someone who influences others to achieve a goal. Leaders are people who have the ability to set an example for their followers by modeling the behaviors that they want to see. They have a vision of what they want their followers to do and will lead them towards it. The leader’s charisma, intelligence, and persuasiveness play an important role in how much power they’re able to wield.

Good Leaders vs Bad Leaders in Their Relationships

Some things that separate good leaders from bad leaders are that good leaders are trusted, respected, have influence which helps them be persuasive with their ideas. They are also usually well-respected by the members of their group and they have a personable character.

Some things that bad leaders do are they provide poor leadership to the group, tend to hold grudges against other people within their group or often point out the wrongs of others. They also tend to exert control or power in a variety of ways that may not always be ethical. If leaders don’t do their job correctly then the people who they lead will not be able to succeed and the leader usually takes the blame for it.

Good and Bad Ethics in Leadership

In order to be an ethical leader, you must: demonstrate integrity, tell the truth when necessary and in all situations, and obey the law. These three qualities are important because they form a leader’s character—the person they choose to be in their everyday lives. They also work together as a set of principles that helps guide decisions–from how you treat people under your supervision to whether or not you accept bribes from vendors looking for lucrative contracts or deals.

If someone doesn’t have these qualities then it’s difficult for them to lead ethically! Most importantly though, an unethical leader will have a negative impact on an organization. They may break the law and use dishonest practices in order to get ahead, but this can hurt a leader’s credibility–with their subordinates or even with lawmakers. Alternatively, ethical leaders maintain a strong sense of what is right and wrong in order to set themselves apart from unethical people among them.

Some Traits of Good Leaders

  • Honest
  • Credible
  • Personable
  • Trustworthy
  • Influential

Some Traits of Bad Leaders

  • Narcissistic
  • Manipulative
  • Lacks Trustworthiness
  • Relies on power or position
  • Is often aggressive or passive-aggressive
  • Holds grudges

Do you have what it takes to be a good leader?

A leader’s duty is to lead well and honorably, setting an example for all those under them. That means making ethically responsible decisions even when no one else is watching. In order to live out ethical leadership, a leader needs to make ethical decisions and stand by those decisions–even when it means facing consequences.

Following ethical leadership practices will help people trust that leader and follow them, making the leader’s job easier and more effective. But it takes a leader to be aware of these issues and make the right choices. After all, there’s no such thing as an ethical leader who makes no ethical decisions because their followers will not trust them.

Additional Recommended Resources*

5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership 25th Anniversary: Follow Them and People Will Follow You

The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations

* Full disclosure: Although I may earn a small commission when you purchase one of these items, this snack money is certainly not the reason for my recommendation. I ONLY MAKE RECOMMENDATION for products that I BELIEVE IN and have made a difference in my life or business.