Transformational Leadership in the Promotion of Ethical Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Transformational Leadership in the Promotion of Ethical Climate and Practices

Some researchers have argued that transformational leadership is effective in promoting ethical climate and practices in order to influence individuals' ethical behaviors in workgroups. Ethical behavior is differentially defined from one culture to another and from one organization to another and it is this difference that the transformational leader is able to convey to the organizational employees through effective means and through doing rather than simply saying what is the ethical standards in any given situation. The objective of this work in writing is to examine the facts, to state either agreement or disagreement with this statement, and to justify the position of the writer of this work on this issue.

Defining Leadership Ethics

The work of McDougle (2003) states that ethics and leadership "have often been thoughts of as mutually-reinforcing concepts." (p.1) Leadership, according to McDougle, can be defined as "actions which influence and direct the performance of others towards the achievement of organizational and/or collective goals." (p.1) Ethics, according to McDougle, can be defined as "an internal set of moral codes and reasoning based upon societal and prescriptive norms." (p.1) Therefore, "ethical appropriateness in regard to leader behavior is oftentimes evaluated in terms of abstract and highly idealistic concepts regarding individual's prescriptive beliefs of how leaders ought to behave." (McDougle, 2003, p.1)

III. Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is cited in the work of Johnson (2011) to be based upon a clear ethical foundation. The objective of the transformational leader is to instill a higher value of ethics in an organization. Transformational leaders are stated to be those who "engage in higher-level moral reasoning, demonstrate greater integrity, are more successful at leading organizational ethical turnarounds, encourage the development of positive ethical climates, institutionalize ethical practices, and foster corporate social responsibility." (Johnson, 2011, p. 198) Johnson states that the combination of "morality and pragmatism makes transformational leadership very attractive." (p. 198) The transformational approach is such that is promising for those who want to become more excellent leaders with a higher level of ethics. Johnson (2011) states that if the transformational leaders is defined by their practices then the adoption of these behaviors will result in the individual becoming a more ethical leaders. (p.198) Transformational leadership is applicable and effective for use in various cultures. (Johnson, 2011, paraphrased) While ethical behavior is defined differently among different cultures there are certain ethical principles which are universal in nature.

IV. Universal Application of Transformational Leadership

Johnson (2011) relates that manager in 62 different cultures were asked to make identification of the attributes of leaders that are successful. Reported were nine transformational attributes that were leadership that is outstanding globally including the attributes of being an arouser of motivation and possessing foresight, providing encouragement and being communicative as well as being trustworthy, dynamic and positive. Finally being a builder of organizational employee confidence is an important attribute of effective leaders stated in the study across 62 different cultures. It is clear from the information related in this study that ethical principles that are universally applicable do exist.

V. Characteristics of Transformational Leaders

Transformational leaders are reported to be those who increase the acknowledgement of moral standards and who emphasis critical priorities. (Johnson, 2003, p.198) Transformational leaders are further stated to be those who motivate those being led with a need to achieve and fostering ethical maturity in followers. " (Johnson, 2011, paraphrased) Transformational leaders are those who develop ethics in the organization upon the basis of values that are shared and ethics that are standardized within the organization. (Johnson, 2011) Transformational leaders are also reported to be those who encourage those being led to have a view that is beyond their own world and experience and to look toward what is good for all in supporting harmony and collaboration and through use of validated proven methods based on common sense with individualized mentoring and coaching. (Johnson, 2011, paraphrased) Mentoring and coaching are both characteristics of transformational leaders that set them apart from other types of leaders. Through mentoring and coaching transformational leaders are able to address organizational ethics in a one-on-one manner which is more effective at instilling ethical principles into the organization's employees.

VI. Research on Transformational Leadership

The work of Armstrong and Muenjohn (2008) report that there have been little in the way of empirical studies that address the theoretical framework supporting the values that leadership ethics are based upon. The result is that theory development on how values and ethics impact transformational leadership is lacking in empirical support. Personality traits are reported as such that are not "good predictors of good leaders." (Armstrong and Muenjohn, 2008, p.21) Armstrong and Muenjohn (2008) state that transformational leaders are those who attempt to awaken others in the organization concerning consequential issues. In order to successfully enlighten others, the leader must be an individual with vision and one who is self-confident and has a great deal of personal inner strength to stand up for what is right rather than what is popular (Bass, 1985, cited in Armstrong and Muenjohn, 2008, paraphrased)

VII. Four Transformational Leadership Factors

Northhouse (2001) describes four transformational leadership factors as follows: (1) Idealized influence; (2) Inspirational Motivation; (3) Intellectual stimulation; and (4) Individualized Consideration. (Armstrong and Muenjohn, 2008, p.22) Research indicates that transformational leadership is held as more effective than transactional leadership producing better outcomes at work, more satisfaction among followers and is stated to have dimensions that are more relevant across cultures. (Muenjohn and Armstrong, 2001, 2007, 2008, Boehnke et al., 2003) Otherwise, stated transformational leadership is applicable universally. Transformational leadership is viewed as a process that "incorporates the action of both leaders and followers in satisfying the needs of both and supporting the development of a continuous path towards higher standards of moral responsibility." (Armstrong and Muenjohn, 2008, p.22) Included in transformational leadership is motivation of those who are being led to rise above their own self-interests for the common good of the "team, organization, or community." (Armstrong and Muenjohn, 2008, p.22) The work of Elliott (2002, 2004), reports that transformational leadership assists the organization in adapting to change, becoming empowered, achieving its potential and produces motivation and commitment at high levels. Huse (2003) writes that transformational leadership "is about leading an organization through change." (p.2)

In its purest form, transformational leadership is "the ability to guide and direct those within a given organization, focusing on one clear directed vision through the application of the components of transformational leadership." (Huse, 2003, p.2) Huse states that the U.S. Army Field Manual 22-100 states of transformational leadership that it is a style that "transforms" those who are being led through challenging those individuals to "rise above their immediate needs and self-interests." (Huse, 2003, p.2) Transformational leadership style is "developmental: it emphasizes individual growth (both professional and personal) and organizational enhancement." (Huse, 2003, p.2)

VIII. Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) and Leadership Development Plan (LDP)

Huse (2003) reports a study with the objective of validating whether the concept of transformational leadership can be applied within the U.S. Army. The study was conducted through use of the instrument known as the "Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire" which is reported to provide "comprehensive 360-degree confidential feedback on leaders' leadership styles that is then followed up with individualized coaching by an Accredited MLQ Management Coach over a period of several months." (Huse, 2003, p.18) The MLQ is reported as being based on the Full Range Leadership Model developed by Bass and Avolio. The MLQ is a short and comprehensive 45-item survey utilized in measuring a full range of styles of leadership.

The MLQ culminates in the 'Leadership Development Plan' (LDP) which is designed using the MLQ results with a focus on bringing about improvements in areas that are found to be below the standard. The LDP is reported as being "uniquely tailored to meet the needs of the individual leaders, and is continually updated based upon feedback from superiors, peers, and subordinates." (Huse, 2003, p. 19) According to Huse (2003), the Full Range Leadership Model makes provision of a wide array of styles and methods that the leaders can use in their dealing with subordinates. The MLQ measures leadership outcomes by analyzing the following:

(1) Extra effort -- getting others to go above and beyond their normal daily tasks;

(2) Satisfaction -- satisfaction derived from working with others; and (3) Effectiveness -- proficient in meeting needs of the job and in leading the team. (Huse, 2003, paraphrased)

Therefore, it can be understood that the transformational leader does more than he is 'required' to do but instead goes the extra mile and gets others in the organization to do the same. The transformational leader is an individual who is not only able to work well with others but one who greatly enjoys and derives great satisfaction from working with others. The transformational leader is also an individual who is effective in meeting the demands of the job and in leading the team to success.

Summary & Conclusion


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