What is Moral Leadership?

What is Moral Leadership?

SCMLi defines Moral Leadership as the capacity to exert influence and effect change by leading self, then others towards specific goals, guided by universal moral principles.

As the growing number of moral and ethical incidents in business, political and even religious institutions demonstrate, individuals and organizations often appear to deviate from commonly held norms and principles, and they do so at increasing cost. Leadership shake-ups, regulatory measures and behavioral codes are routinely introduced to solve the problems. Meanwhile a realization is sinking in that revolving leadership will not transform unethical organizational cultures and individual behavior is seldom effectively impacted by regulation and codes.

Morality rather than rules are far better candidates for guiding behavior. An intrinsic stimulus, morality centers on personal character and conduct, where a good deal of ethical challenges tend to originate. Personal character is also an important element of leadership and group approval, forming the nexus between leadership, organizational culture and morality, the space SCMLi explores and navigates.

What distinguishes SCMLi’s approach to leadership is that it always addresses leadership in relation to moral imperatives rather than functional or materialistic objectives or outcomes. While definitions and applications of Moral Leadership are evolving, SCMLi draws on a specific conceptual framework for Moral Leadership. This framework is anchored in four foundational principles, namely truth, nobility, service and transcendence and introduces three key dimensions of Moral Leadership namely;

  • the personal dimension of leading self
  • the interpersonal dimension of leading others
  • and the societal dimension of leading organizations and being accountable to society as a whole

Each dimension in turn is associated with particular leadership skills and capabilities, eighteen in total. Leading self necessitates self-evaluation, reflection, initiative, perseverance, self-discipline, rectitude and systemic thinking. Leading others meanwhile requires empathy, encouragement and consultation, but also a focus on promoting unity and family responsibility. This last trait in particular does not appear often in other leadership constructs. The social dimension of Moral Leadership finally requires vision, the transformation of dominant relationships, justice, empowerment, service to institutions and finally historical perspective. This last dimension of Moral Leadership is key as it propels it beyond the generally limited interests of individual and organizations.