Title

What is an ethical leader? The characteristics of ethical leadership from the perceptions held by Australian senior executives

Document Type

Journal Article

Publisher

Chapman University

Place of Publication

Orange, USA

School

School of Business and Law

RAS ID

20741

Comments

Originally published as: Crews, J. (2015). What is an ethical leader? The characteristics of ethical leadership from the perceptions held by Australian senior executives. Journal of Business Management. 21 (1). 29-57. Original article available here

Abstract

This paper presents the findings of a qualitative study that examines the characteristics of ethical leadership. Seventy-eight (78) Australian senior executives, represented by diverse industry backgrounds from both the public and private sectors, participated in the study. The researcher conducted semi-structured face-to-face interviews in which participants were asked to describe the characteristics and behaviors of an individual in a professional context they identified as an ethical leader. The participants' responses were analyzed with the assistance of NVivo (QSR International Pty Ltd, 2003), a qualitative data storage and retrieval program. The principal findings consisted of three themes: value alignment, governance, and relationship-centeredness. Ethical leaders are perceived to be individuals who behave with integrity, courage, and trustworthiness. They are relationship-centered, with fairness and altruism as the defining features of their engagement with others. In matters of governance, ethical leaders demonstrate adherence to formal accountability measures and exercise discernment in their decision-making responsibilities. More importantly, leaders perceived to be ethical demonstrate a strong alignment between what they espouse and how this is demonstrated in their behavior. This paper presents an overview of the literature in the area of ethical leadership and a discussion on the findings of this study in relation to the literature. It concludes with recommendations for further research

Access Rights

Not open access

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