The Nature of Unethical Leadership – Nu Leadership Series

“In the past a leader was a boss. Today’s leaders must be partners with their people… they no longer can lead solely based on positional power.”
Ken Blanchard

Many leaders don’t operate ethically because they don’t understand leadership. These executives may have MBAs from Ivey League schools or have attended leadership training. They may routinely read the best-selling management books. However, they don’t understand what it means to be a leader. I don’t mean they aren’t familiar with the terminology, but they don’t model the way.

For this discussion, we will bring several concepts together so that we can gain a holistic view of leadership. The Stogdill’s Handbook of Leadership in 1974 listed 4,725 studies of leadership; however, all of this empirical data has not produced a mutual understanding of the term called leadership. We define leadership as a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal. Sadly, many leaders don’t take the concept of leadership serious.

Their organizational initiatives are often self serving; however, the emerging workforce isn’t motivated by selfish managers. This selfish behavior often turns into unethical conduct. Winston, a leadership guru, suggests that the leader’s behavior then helps to form followers’ attitudes that affect how followers’ behave. These negative vibes can spread like a dangerous virus. “If my managers don’t care, then I won’t either.” Effective organizations have leaders that do not compromise their principles. Therefore, highly performing managers know and understand what it means to be a true leader.


Kouzes, J. & Posner, B. (1996). The Leadership Challenge. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Winston, B. (2002). Be a Leader for God’s Sake. Virginia Beach, VA: Regent University.

© 2006 by Daryl D. Green