What is an ethical leader?

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The eternal debate of leadership is whether a leader is born or made. Either way, every now and then a leader will benefit from a ‘recalibration’ of who they are and why they do what they do.

The human condition is a complex one to say the least, and we can be seduced by the idea that authority is in fact leadership, status is leadership, or that outcomes alone are the measure of leadership. At Bluestone Edge we believe that leadership has a few non-negotiable characteristics, namely that leadership is a service one offers to others, leadership doesn’t exist without action, and leadership is characterized by the ability and willingness to influence people. It is a question of skill, character and of circumstance.

Ethical leadership goes further. It requires the leader to consider the principles that underpin their actions – do you win at all costs? Will you seek the greatest good for the greatest number of people? Will you seek an ‘eye for an eye’? (Gandhi reminded us that this leads to blindness). Ethical leadership is not always a question of black and white, but of the uncertain grey in the middle. It cannot always be about clear right and wrong, but sometimes about choosing the better option of several that are less than great. It is about knowing why you make one decision over another and what you believe in when you face failure or when you face success.

At Bluestone Edge, we believe sport is an important place for ethical leadership, not least because it is so visible in our society. Sport gives us a forum to practice leadership directly, and it offers a metaphor for us to see and understand the force of leadership more broadly.

To find out more on how we can help your organisation develop ethical leaders
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