Moral Courage & Leadership

Why Moral Leadership

We live in a world where people are often not authentic or true to themselves. When you don’t know what you believe or what you stand for how can you expect others to trust you and follow you. With the complexities faced in business including racial bias, gender equity, and financial transparency the development of leadership based on ethics and morality is necessary (2). What is even more troubling is that many employees recognize that their leaders are not demonstrating moral leadership when it is needed the most (2).

The development of moral leadership

Whatever capacity you find yourself in…your ability to show and sustain leadership will be central to your capacity to influence others. There are four guideposts of moral leadership. 

  1. Moral leaders pursue purpose: If you have ever seen the movie Aquaman then you know the central character Aquaman is a half breed with a human father and a mother who is a queen of the sea. Without giving the story away Aquaman is driven to become a hero based on moral leadership and the understanding that he is fulfilling his purpose and mission by fighting in a war he wanted nothing to do with… (1). Becoming a moral leader is not about a moment it is a journey that requires patience and the willingness to endure doubt and hardship (1).  It is your moral compass that will help you to achieve your mission…if you persist…when you feel like giving up and throwing in the towel.

  2. Moral Leaders are Transformative: When you operate based on moral principles you inspire others to work collectively with you in the pursuit of an organizational mission (1). Seeing the humanity in others is vital because when you do…there are no big I’s and little You’s there are only collaborators working towards a common cause (1). That common cause is what guides and creates a collective purpose that everyone on your team can feel a part of…

  3. Moral Leaders are passionate and expressive when it comes to Courage and Patience: Moral-based decisions are not always popular and that’s why the principle must drive decisions even if they are unpopular at times (1). Courage is required for moral leadership because as leaders move up in the hierarchy of organizations, there is a tendency to lose personal identity. This is because in the pursuit of power many leaders buckle to the pressure of achieving bottom line results at all costs. Patience is required because dealing with others requires a willingness to allow them to grow and develop even if it is not at your speed or desired pace (1). As a moral leader if you continue to focus on long-term actions and point others towards them, eventually others will be transformed by such leadership. 

  4. Moral leaders continue growing in moral strength: Moral muscle is developed as a leader wrestles with situations of right and wrong seeking only to serve the best interests of others (1). You must think about how your future actions will affect others and also the situation as a whole. When you fail or make a poor decision, an ethical leader is willing to admit wrong and change course towards the right decision (1). True moral leadership is the development of others allowing them to feel valuable in the shared victories of their team (1).

The Benefit of Moral Courage

According to previous studies managers scoring high on showing moral courage by stating the truth, and taking a stand by focusing on justice and fairness are 17 times more likely to be considered the right person for the job (2). 

17% of employees acknowledge their leaders state the truth regardless of the personal risk (2). 13% of employees state their leaders take a stand on moral topics even if not associated with business objectives (2).

13% of employees almost always wrestle with questions about right, wrong, justice, and fairness (2).