Ethics and Leadership Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Leadership Ethics

Kathleen Blanco, the first woman governor of Louisiana; she is known for her policies in making education better throughout the south and is also responsible for passage of the nation's largest investment in education ("Governor's Information," 2004). Along with this, she has made investments in technology infrastructures which have led to the forward push of economic development and increased Louisiana's ability to compete for new jobs. This attracted almost $24 billion new investments and 35,000 new jobs in the span of only three years. Her commitment towards children also helped the expansion and access to health insurance for children throughout Louisiana ("Governor's Information," 2004). Additionally, she successfully overhauled Louisiana's state correctional system and designed a nationally-recognized model of excellence in juvenile justice. Blanco has succeeded in a number of her endeavors towards making Louisiana a better place; however, like every other political leader, she did not always have a smooth ride.

There are many different reasons as to why people become leaders (Sarros, & Cooper, 2006). These include reasons which may be because they develop a certain talent, charisma, passion. It may also be because of their wealth, job title and even family. Others may become leaders because they have great ideas and intelligent minds, or that they have the ability to take charge in a room full of people. Some people may have found their leadership role in a situation or circumstance purely out of change. However, no matter how an individual becomes a leader, he or she did not get there without having followers (Schneider, 2002). Managers may act like bullies at time, power-tripping on their subordinates and using their rank to force their own will on people; this is not what leadership is about. Leadership is more of a moral relationship between people; it is not a person or a position (Sarros, & Cooper, 2006). Leadership is about ethics, and a good leader has this.

Today, one can say that we live in a time where world leaders can be morally unethical. It is the increase in information, and the emergence of scandals which increases the confusion about leadership (Hornett, & Fredricks, 2005). Great leaders in time have been probed of their ethical short-comings, and it's very hard in today's day and age to have heroes when everything about their lives is so public. This is seen with today's politicians who are being so closely watched, and their every move is criticized by the public. Ethics and leadership focus on two things, these are: integrity and honesty. Ethics is located in the heart of leadership, and they are not two separate things. The study of ethics is generally being able to tell right from wrong, knowing virtue, one's duty and obligations, etc. (Resick, Hanges, Dickson, & Mitchelson, 2006). Leadership entails certain kinds of moral problems in connection with human relationships. The goal of leadership ethics studies is to try to understand how the leadership-follower relationship works (Waldman, de Luque, Washburn, & House, 2006).

Blanco faced a crisis during her term of less than two years; this placed her name on the line. Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, and Blanco was put under the spotlight (Roig-Franzia & Hsu, 2005). Many people claim that the governor was not well prepared for a crisis such as this, and she did not address evacuation as effectively as it could have been handled. There was a power struggle which emerged, and federal officials tried to take authority from Blanco. Through a proposed legal memorandum, the Bush Administration asked her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans. Blanco had refused to declare a state of emergency in New Orleans's despite the efforts of the Bush administration (Roig-Franzia & Hsu, 2005). Many of Blanco's critics claim that she did not act fast enough and this resulted in Louisiana not reaching out to a multi-state mutual aid compact in search of assistance soon enough. This was a burden to a lot of the families who had lost their homes at that time. According to Roig-Franzia and Hsu (2005) Dan Barlette, a White House Spokesman stated "The federal government stands ready to work with state and local officials to secure New Orleans and the state of Louisiana. The president will not let any form of bureaucracy get in the way of protecting the citizens of Louisiana" (qtd. Roig-Franzia & Hsu, 2005). Blanco was seen to make moves which would only assure her independence from the federal government be protected. This had caused a delay in response to the disaster and Bush placed responsibility for the failure on lower levels of government (Roig-Franzia & Hsu, 2005).

Blanco was seen to be making decisions based on her own self-interest. As a leader, this should not have been done. Ethics is very communal, it does not focus on one person, it is a web of interlaying relationships. Because ethics does not focus on the individual, it is about the rights and obligations we share with others. Individuals need other people to thrive and survive. Ethics in the government is the ongoing need to find justice, equity and fair play. Work is not detached from human life, and ethics seen in a position held in the government focuses on the people you work for and work with. This makes the people in your environment a big part of your life (Resick, Hanges, Dickson, & Mitchelson, 2006). The question is now, what should be done regards with others?

Ethics is said to be pluralistic and non-egotistic. The evaluation of the self in relation to others is said to be its primary paradigm. An individual must always take into account his or her actions (Waldman, de Luque, Washburn, & House, 2006). When the actions of that individual come into conflict with the interests of those around him or her, the individual should go into reflection and maybe even suspend or modify his or her actions. This is because ethics requires us to act on behalf of others. In order to pursue our best interests, we must first take into account the interests of those around us (Schneider, 2002).

Some of Blanco's critics believed that Blanco did act accordingly during the crisis in which New Orleans faced last 2005 (Roig-Franzia & Hsu, 2005). She was said to implement emergency plans before the hurricane hit. This is seen through the eyes of the democrat party in which the Bush administration was blamed for the delay in aid. Leadership does come with its ethical failures, this is seen in immoral decisions, actions, etc. (Waldman, de Luque, Washburn, & House, 2006). This is seen a lot with leaders across the globe, throughout the government as well as in many businesses and organizations. When ethical leadership is exposed to others, we tend to look for an explanation for the leader's immoral acts, instead of trying to analyze the moral status of his action. Sometimes, people are too preoccupied with the immoral act, that there are questions which are left unanswered. To be able to locate an answer to these questions, we must look at the features of decisions and what make them right or wrong (Resick, Hanges, Dickson, & Mitchelson, 2006). The point in defining an action if moral or not is to direct leaders into knowing how to behave morally given a clear-cut definition of the characters of ethical success. This shifts the view of people on leaders from how they act, to why they should act that way.

There are defining moments in life which is when true character shows. This was seen with Kathleen Blanco during Hurricane Katrina. It does not matter if she acted on the evacuation immediately or with delay, the characteristic within her which was most obvious was that in the midst of…

Cite This Essay:

"Ethics And Leadership" (2010, November 13) Retrieved January 21, 2018, from

"Ethics And Leadership" 13 November 2010. Web.21 January. 2018. <>

"Ethics And Leadership", 13 November 2010, Accessed.21 January. 2018,