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Styles of Ethical Leadership
Appropriate leadership style depends upon the ethical context of the organization, its organizational culture, and the situation it finds itself in at any point in its organizational life. There is no "one-size-fits-all" style of leadership for all organizations, or, for that matter, any one organization at all points in its organizational life.

This matrix suggests six styles of leadership, any one of which might be appropriate for any one organization or for dealing with any given situation.

 
Maintenance Strategies
Incremental Change Strategies
Transformative Change Strategies
Values-based/ Facilitative-Persuasive Modes

Steward Leadership

Use when organization is in good condition, the ethical context of the organization is values-based, and the purpose, vision and values of the organization are shared by all key stakeholders.

Participative Evolution

Use when the organization is in good condition and in synch with its ethical context, but needs minor adjustment, or is not in good condition or is out of sync with its ethical context, but time is available and key stakeholders favor change.

Charismatic Transformation

Use when the organization is not in good condition or is out of synch with its ethical context, and, though there is little time available, there is support for radical change.

Rules-based/ Manipulative-Coercive Modes

Ethically Neutral Successful Leadership *

Use when the organization is in good condition, the ethical context of the organization is substantially rules-based, and a compliance culture is shared by all key stakeholders.

Forced Evolution

Use when the organization is in good condition and is essentially in sync with its ethical context, but needs minor adjustment, or when it is not in good condition or is out of sync with its ethical context and key stakeholders oppose change, but time is available.

 

Dictatorial Transformation

Use when the organization is not in good condition or is out of sync with its ethical context, there is no time for extensive participation and no support within the organization for radical change, but such change is vital to organizational survival and fulfillment of its mission.

 

* The concept of the "Ethically Neutral Successful Leader" was developed by a Research Theme Group cochaired by Drs. Linda Trevino and Laura Pincus Hartman as part of the ERC Fellows Program. No endorsement by them or the ERC Fellows Program is implied by the inclusion of the concept in this matrix. Contact the Ethics Resource Center for more information.

This table is an extension of a model by Todd D. Jick, "Managing Change." The Portable MBA in Management. Ed. Allan R. Cohen. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1993. 340-368.




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