Ethical Challenges Of Leadership: Casting Light Or Shadow

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In Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership: Casting Light or Shadow, Johnson (2012) gives an overview of ethics, ethical decision-making, moral leadership processes and group and organizational dynamics. It is a very well organized book that provides reflective exercises and case studies throughout the reading. The author portrays leaders as either casting shadows or light. Shadows represent harm or destructive behavior and light expresses benefit and positivity. Those leaders that cast shadows are ineffective and/or unethical. All leaders face dilemmas involving “issues of power, privilege, information, consistency, loyalty and responsibility” (Johnson, 2012, p. 7). It is how leaders handle those dilemmas that determine whether …show more content…
Adopting ethical approaches can provide a toolset for leaders to use in the challenges they face. Approaches include doctrines such as “attempting to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people” (Johnson, 2012, p. 154), “do what is morally right no matter the consequences” (Johnson, 2012, p. 158), everyone is entitled to the same basic rights and opportunities, concern for the common good, and always putting others first. Johnson discusses that leaders can also review and adopt a leadership styles to help them remove shadows. Styles include a transformation leadership that seeks “higher ethical standards and performance” (Johnson, 2012, p. 193), servant leadership that puts “the needs of followers before their own” (Johnson, 2012, p. 200), authentic leadership that relies on strength in their core values and beliefs, responsible leadership that is “building ethical relationships with stakeholders” (Johnson, 2012, p. 214) or Taoist leadership style that follows the motto “leave well enough alone” (Johnson, 2012, p. 219). Leaders must understand the advantages and disadvantages of each approach. Each decision a leader makes must be deliberate and with the understanding of why they have chosen the path they follow. Leaders can prepare to choose the path of light by increasing their sensitivity to potential ethical issues by exercising and developing mental models. Johnson (2012) suggests that once an ethical issue is faced, leaders can strengthen their path by surrounding themselves with an ethical support group, continuing to learn since “education fosters moral reasoning” (Johnson, 2012, p. 243), considering varying perspectives, and drawing from widely accepted moral principles. Leaders should understand their own decision making process to help them choose the correct path. A systemic approach in decision making can help the

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