Is Morality Essential to Leadership?

By embracing the role of your team's moral guidance counsel, you can get your staff to internalize the principles they deem critical to success.

Aug 23, 2017 | BLOG POST

Our leaders are bestowed with great powers, and even greater responsibilities.  Perhaps the most important of these responsibilities is their commitment to morality, obligating him or her to treat people fairly, set a good example, speak the truth, to name just a few.  While each of these obligations is of significant importance, it is a leader’s role as their organization’s moral fiduciary that is their greatest responsibility.

Local government managers are responsible for all their organization does and fails to do.  Despite this maxim, the demands on a leader’s time are great, and they cannot be everywhere at once.  They cannot be in every strategic planning meeting, nor can they be on every patrol to safeguard the community.  The only way a leader can be confident their team is on the correct moral azimuth is by establishing standards of conduct and, to the extent possible, clearly articulating what is right and what is wrong. 

Morals vary from individual to individual and despite people’s stance on individual issues, a leader must instruct the organization on his or her expectations of them as local government professionals.  By embracing the role of their team's moral guidance counsel, leaders can get their staff to internalize the principles they deem critical to success.

It is typical to hear some assert that setting a good example is the most important moral obligation of a leader.  Not all moral actions are observable, however.  It may be what someone refrains from doing that creates a moral deed.  Often times the toughest moral decisions are made when no one is looking; it is the sheer act of an individual choosing the harder right over the easier wrong when no one is around to see.  Others may make strong arguments for justness or honesty, dignity, or respect.  These are all noteworthy moral obligations, but how can one argue that one moral stance is stronger than the next.  Is having an honest leader of greater importance than one that treats everyone with dignity and respect?  Is it more important that a leader sets a good example or that he tells the truth, even to his or her detriment?

That's for you to decide. 

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