what do you mean by Moral Leadership?

What does Moral Leadership mean to you?

Moral Leadership as I understand is -

1. A leader, by definition, is one who guides, who shows the way by example. A leader, if he is to be effective, must have the ability to persuade others. If there is no persuasion, there simply is no leadership.

2.In order to be able to persuade others to follow a course of action, a leader must have personal integrity. If a man cannot be trusted, he cannot lead, for the populous will not be guided by someone in whom they have no confidence.

Moral Leadership is a very different kind of leadership. Rather than aspiring to being followed, Moral Leaders aim to serve. Instead of showcasing their own skills, Moral Leaders tend to develop the capacities of others. Moral Leadership is not about rank – any person holding any position can be a Moral Leader, but such individuals are always characterized by a deep sense of ethics, are driven by core ideals (such as justice) and are motivated by the pursuit of a higher purpose.

Moral Leadership is also about particular capacities and skills. First of all, Moral Leaders know how to manage themselves, how to temper their egos and how to act with nobility and rectitude. They are visionary and affect personal change. Moral Leaders also have a highly developed sense of emotional intelligence and master key social skills. They work to overcome obstacles and are skilled at the art of consultation. They build consensus navigate diversity and establish unity. Moral Leaders are the conscience (i.e. moral compass) of an enterprise or organization and the glue that holds it together.

The term Moral Leadership resonates for this reason, I think, because people see the need for a broader understanding of what good leadership is. Inherent in the word “moral” is the idea of right and wrong, so we are looking for right leadership, but whose idea of right and wrong is the standard?
Defining what the right thing has proven somewhat elusive in the face of competing needs. It requires introspection, critical thinking and some robust dialogue with diverse groups, which takes a lot of work and an uncommon ability to lean into the discomforts of uncertainty, ready to explore and learn.

Let me put an example here, “We do not trust our leader personally, but we like his programs,” is an oxymoron, an illogical contradiction. If one cannot trust a leader, he cannot know, in the final analysis, the direction of his “programs.” A component of personal integrity is the matter of example.

An effective leader absolutely must be a good example. History has borne this out repeatedly. Herodotus, known as the father of history, declared: “I am satisfied that we are less convinced by what we hear than by what we see.”

Leaders are being challenged as to how ethical they are, in their conduct and behavior, in terms of goods and services produced, the society, customers, suppliers, employees and the whole ecosystem in which they operate. Just as the staff is evaluated on the basis of their performance in an organization, employees too evaluate their leaders, with the benchmark being ethics.

Morality in leadership matters a lot. The moment you accept a leadership position, you have to be prepared to be in public gaze. Your conduct needs to be impeccable. What you say and do needs to be measured. As a leader, you are accountable to the employees and to the society at large. Every word or action of a leader is watched by countless followers. The implication and impact of anything that a leader says and does can range from small to immense. Leadership, therefore, comes with responsibilities to take care of and being extra cautious..

Most of us idolize leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, and lament about the lack of leadership and role models today. We need to look around ourselves and we will find modern day heroes in those leaders who believe in moral leadership. They may not be shouting from the roofs and leading large-scale ethical crusades. But they will be moving patiently, carefully and consistently in the right direction. Their actions will be correcting or preventing moral wrongs in the workplace. They will have the ability to see ‘the end in the beginning’, the capacity for vision and the ability to foresee the impact of every small action in achieving that vision. They will ensure that the vision and values of the organisation incorporate ethical behaviour. They will ensure that workplace performance measurement systems integrate with ethics. Slowly and painstakingly, they will create a culture where mo­rality is valued and ethics are observed with pride.

Moral leadership is not about telling the stakeholders that you have delivered the best results. It is about looking at yourself in the mirror and being able to tell yourself that you have done the right thing. It is about being able to live with your choices, when these are tested against values and not against regulation and quarterly results. It is about being able to sleep peacefully at night not because you have won the battle, but because you have done your best.

Leadership and respect go together. As a leader, while you have to earn respect, it is important that you respect those around you. Most people greatly desire the respect of their leaders. And when leaders give it freely, it creates a very positive environment. As a leader, it is natural to take pride in what you have done, but humility is important too. Be proud of your achievements, but use this as a platform to bring people together to do greater th­ings. A sense of humility is essential for leadership because it authenticates your humanity. Recognizing what we do well, as well as what we do not do so well, is vital to self-awareness and ethical leadership cannot exist without self-awareness.

We are living through tough times, both socially and economically. The wo­rld around us is rapidly evolving and transforming. We need many more leaders who will guide us through the maze of change into the world of tomorrow that is better than today. And the leader that we love to have is of course a Moral Leader.


Bida Tamang

(Teacher in Higher Sec School)

Chukha Higher Secondary School


Chukha Bhutan



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