This essay briefly discusses the impact of ethical qualities and the lack of it in leaders. It also demonstrates the importance of ethics in leaders, by analyzing three examples. Ethics is defined as, “ a branch of philosophy which studies the values and customs of a person or a group. It covers the analysis and employment of concepts such as right and wrong, good and evil, and responsibility. It is divided into three primary areas :meta-ethics, which is the study of concept of ethics, normative ethics, which is the study of how to determine ethical values, and pplied ethics which is the study of use of ethics”. ( Ethics ) Leaders are decision makers. Their decision affects the people under them. While making decisions they have to be very careful. Apart from following the rigid guidelines like law, they must also follow the value system. The values which they have integrated into their personalities.
A leader who has good values integrated in his personality will always be considerate to others, and think of the consequences his decisions will have on the roup of people under him. His tendency would always be to take decisions which will bring happiness to the people who are going to be affected by his decisions. On the contrary, a leader with bad ethics can create a catastrophe, and affect the people in a negative way. Often, his decisions are very selfish also. They bring the downfall of a family, organization or the country they are leading. A typical feature of a leader with bad ethics is that he is not bothered about the effects his ecision will have on the subjects. Three female leaders, Mrs. Thatcher, Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Meg Whitman could be cited as examples of good and bad ethics. Mrs. Thatcher, showed her commitment and adherence to ethics in the way she stepped down as the Prime Minister of one of the strongest nations on this world. It was one of the rarest demonstration of respect towards democratic process. Her action was full of dignity and elegance, which would set right precedents for the people.
Mrs. Indira Gandhi, on the other hand, proclaimed emergency when the Indian high court refused to confirm the validity of her election in 1970s. This action of her pushed the vast population of India, under an authoritarian rule, and those months are labeled as the darkest days of independent India. Ethics demanded that she respects the court order, and steps down, but she put aside all ethical values, because she did not want to be out of power. Meg Whitman, President and CEO, eBay is another example of how ethics play an important ole in elevating an organization, in the public view.
Today she is respected not only for revolutionizing the eCommerce sector but also her commitment to eBay Foundation which works for the social cause. Similarly, Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin and Abraham Lincoln can be cited as examples for ethical behavior in leaders. Irrespective of what went into the making of Hitler, his inner desire to take revenge and rule the world were completely unethical. He forgot the basic natural rule that this world belongs to every living species.
Idi Amin, on the other hand is well known for his tyranny on foreign settlers. It was totally unethical on his part to torture them in an in-human way. Bad ethics always result in catastrophes. While Abraham Lincoln, not only fought for their freedom, but their rights also. He is remembered and respected by all. All these leaders, did not act according to any set rules or laws. They acted on the basis of their intuition and their conscience. They were driven by the ethical values. Ethics create history, good or bad.