Booktopia’s Sarah McDuling reflects upon ethical leadership – and cherry-picks the best books for further reading.
At a glance ethical leadership may seem simple enough. By any interpretation, an ethical leader is a good leader. Integrity, justice, compassion and respect are values that must logically lie at the core of any conversation about leadership and ethics. Ethics are, after all, the moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour. To behave ethically is essentially to know and to do what is right.
However, authentic ethical leadership involves more than simply identifying and pursuing a list of core values. It requires a framework based on communication, action and trust.
Values-based leadership creates a working environment where employees feel secure. It fosters a sense of pride among colleagues – which boosts staff performance, retention and morale. Put simply, people who trust their leaders are happier, more productive and more successful.
While transparency and clear communication are core elements of ethical leadership, perhaps the most important is action – or ‘leading by example’. This can be done by aligning systems and processes to promote ethical reasoning, independence of thought, listening, flexibility and resilience. Without these processes in place, a leader may fail to walk the talk. Inspirational speeches are worthless if they aren’t backed up by action.
Ethical leaders are very rarely born, ready-made. They develop via a combination of training, learning and innovative thinking. With that in mind, I have chosen the books in this reading list to guide and inspire you to be the most ethical (and therefore most effective) leader you can be.
Recommended reading: Ethics and leadership
By Fred Kofman
By Lea Berman, Jeremy Bernard and Laura Bush
By Andrew Leigh
By Mindy Gibbins-Klein
By Pete Geissler and Bill O’Rourke
By Morgen Witzel
By Paul Hargreaves
By Vlatka Hlupic
By Ann Mei Chang
By Joanne Sonenshine
By Derrick Feldmann
By Julian Richer
AVAILABLE FROM BOOKTOPIA | Find out more about all these books, and order them online at booktopia.com.au.
This article originally appeared in the September 2019 print edition of Leadership Matters, IML ANZ’s quarterly magazine. For editorial suggestions and enquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.