‘Moral leadership? What is that?’
Those sentences were the first thing that came out into my mind when I see the term ‘moral leadership’. As a student who hasn’t experienced the taste of being a leader, I had a hard time on defining the term into my own understanding. Fortunately, after a few times of looking blankly at the dictionary book, I came out on my own definition of moral leadership.
At first, many people, including me, mistook the term ‘moral leadership’ with the term ‘leadership’, which have the definition as the action of leading, guiding or influencing a group of people or an organization. Both have similar complex concept and hard to understand. A lot of people often relate it based on the stereotypes of a leader, which is one step ahead of another, having a full authority over something, able to control people and better than the others. Many people believe this kind of leadership style is disempowering others and often self-serving.
To be honest, I also have the same perception with the other majority of people. Based on my experience, the ‘leaders’ around me are not really reflecting the term ‘leadership’ in the right way. Even though this is only my opinion, I think there are still many ‘leaders’ who are not really cooperative and often take decision based on their own will. Some of them are not even honest and taking opportunities from others without thinking about their rights. A lot of people are suffering from the inappropriate leader behaviors. While from what I believe, a leader is the one who have to be able to guide and able to become an excellent role model because a leader is the one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way (John Maxwell).
Although we cannot deny the fact the matter of right or wrong is based on someone’s ideology, a leader has to have the ability to choose the right decision for his or her followers. A leader also has to have personal integrity in order to become a good leader. What would our world become if the leaders who lead us have no integrity?
And then I came out with the term ‘moral leadership’. To be honest, I thought both ‘leadership’ and ‘moral leadership’ has the same meaning. However, I tried to break the term into a simpler sentence. Moral is defined as a person’s standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable for them to do. People with morality know their limit and recognizes the importance of values. They will not make any decision based on their own opinion, but also considering other things that have the possibility to affect the decision that she or he will choose. While leadership, just as I mentioned before, is defined as the action or state of leading a group of people. Therefore, we can define ‘moral leadership’ as the act of leading, guiding or influencing people on the basis of standards that are considered morally and ethically acceptable and recognizing the importance of values and attitudes in decision-making.
Moral leadership is unique. Instead of craving for followers and being followed, people who adapt this kind of leadership would choose to serve. They do not disempower others and showing of their skills or abilities, but also develop the capacities of others. Leaders who adapt moral leadership are different from the others. They know how to manage themselves and know how to act with nobility and rectitude. “Let go ego” is what defines them the most. Moral leaders also have to face a countless numbers of challenges. They have to be strong, but cannot be rude. They have to be kind to others, but they cannot be weak. They have to be bold and thoughtful, but they have to keep themselves from bullying and stay away from being lazy. They are also required to be humble and proud, but they have to forbid themselves from being timid and have to keep their feet on the ground. Isn’t it the hardest job ever?
There are countless numbers of people who has the ability to cope with the term ‘moral leadership’ with unknown names that we do not recognize, but we can set the examples from several big names such as Abraham Lincoln and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Abraham Lincoln successfully re-united and restored the United States of America after they won the civil war. The emancipation of blacks were achieved thanks to Abraham Lincoln, and although it needs two centuries to make a black man to become a president, we can safely say that Abraham Lincoln’s works and struggle had shown its result gradually.
More known as Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi had shown the world the true meaning of moral leadership. He knew what was the right thing for his followers and his country. He did the non-violence approach on dealing with the colonizer, the British. He was also arrested several times for the accuse of revolting, but he took it all and did not ask his followers to stay in the jail for him. He took the pain all by himself instead. His non-violence approach also shows us that he did not take any decision based on his opinions. He thinks about the consequences for his followers if he took the violence way to fight the British. Can you imagine the possibility of high casualty numbers if he chose to revolt using violence? From this point, we can see that he successfully adapts the moral leadership in his leadership style. His leadership style and his principle, satyagraha (holding on truth) and ahimsa (non-violence towards all living things) really reflect on his commitment to serve, self-sacrifice for love, integrity and making his followers on the top of his priority. He did not just lead and control his followers, but also serve and do not disempower others. His hard work had shown its result, India achieved its independence and he earned his place in the history book, known as a liberator of the Indian nation.
Currently, the world is facing globalization. We are in the state where everything is changing globally. Our world has become an unjust world, where we can see the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer and the inequality is rising gradually. Things are getting uncontrolled, and there’s always a chance that globalization can make things worse. However, is there any chance for us to prevent things from getting worse? Is there anybody who can do something to overcome this problem? Well, with their commitment to serve others, self-sacrifice for love, heart full of integrity and their ability to let go their ego, I’m sure moral leaders can fix this problem and lead our future better.
Name: Tsamara Alifia
School: Sekolah Bogor Raya
16, student, grade 12 (high school)