Contemporary Varieties of Ethical Leadership in Organizations

Montgomery Van Wart


Classical ethics perspectives are generally sorted into the virtue, deontological, or teleological approaches, also known as the character, means (duty), and ends (greatest good) schools of ethical thought. In recent decades, the catalog of literature extolling the various types of ethical leadership has proliferated. Analysis of the six major contemporary ethical leadership perspectives that follow reveals that they can be grouped into “scientific” articulations of three dominant classical distinctions. That is, the personal integrity and authentic/positive leadership models can be seen as classic virtue approaches, looking to the individual as the primary locus of ethical action. Moral management and professionally-grounded leadership can be seen as classic deontological approaches, focusing on society’s rules and roles, as spelled out through compliance or professional education. Finally, variants of the socially responsible leader and transforming leadership models can be seen as classic teleological approaches, emphasizing broad shareholder inclusiveness with “greatest-good” assumptions. Critique of each of the various varieties of ethical leadership is also reviewed.

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International Journal of Business Administration
ISSN 1923-4007(Print) ISSN 1923-4015(Online)


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