Ethics and Leadership: The Role of Prevention and Promotion Oriented Approaches to Leadership

Ethics and Leadership: The Role of Prevention and Promotion Oriented Approaches to Leadership

Nathan S. Hartman (Illinois State University, USA) and Thomas A. Conklin (Georgia State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6433-3.ch048
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Abstract

Leadership and ethics continue to be important areas of research. The devastating results of failed leadership in numerous Enron-like situations have ensured that this is the case. This chapter suggests how various leadership approaches and behaviors lead to or develop different types of employee behaviors that impact organizational outcomes. The framework reviews ethical, transformational, and servant leadership, and their relationship to self-regulatory focus. Specifically, promotion-oriented leaders tend to reflect transformational and servant-leadership behaviors and resulting organization cultures, while prevention-oriented leaders match the ethical leadership style and related organization culture. The prevention orientation is a conservative mindset guiding consistent leader and employee behavior, while the promotion orientation provides more opportunity for unique and innovative behaviors.
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Introduction

In the current business environment, leadership and ethics continue to be important areas of research. This is particularly relevant given the frequency of Enron, Fannie Mae, and J. P. Morgan & Company-like corporate scandals that have continued to occur throughout the beginning of the 21st century. Despite the prevalence of such scandals, a recent review by Brown and Trevino (2006) concluded “ethical leadership remains largely unexplored” (p. 595). Existing research focuses on identified contexts, attitudes, and environments relating to unethical leader behavior and its impact on employees. Creating or fostering ethical leadership received less emphasis, revealing a conspicuous disparity between highlighting negative aspects of unethical leadership and incomplete discussion on the application of positive, ethical leadership. The work presented here is intended to help scholars and practitioners gain insights into why the positive strengths of ethical leadership matter (Luthans & Youssef, 2007) and the precipitating factors that account for its emergence compared to that of transformational and servant leadership styles.

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