Ethics in Leadership

No, this is not the title of my next novel (though I kind of like it). Today I’m scheduled to speak to students at Middle Tennessee State University on ethics in leadership. I’ve been thinking about what to say – often when I give these types of talks, I don’t prepare a “script” but rather go with what is on my mind. It may sound like the wrong method, but in an intimate classroom setting I prefer the discussion approach rather than following a stiff presentation march (with potential Death by PowerPoint).ian-schneider-66374-unsplash

Still, thinking about ethics in leadership has led me to certain points in my life when, in hindsight (and often at the time), I chose the ethical leadership decision. I’ve come to realize the reason for that. In reality, thee is no such thing as unethical leadership.

A leader is not someone who oversees people, a department, a squadron, and so on. Those who approach successful completion of a mission by relying solely on chain of command are not leaders, they are managers. Leaders may or may not be someone’s superior in an organizational chart. In fact, most likely not.

Leadership is about service. Conversely, true service is leadership. Ethical leadership involves using our positions of influence to achieve positive results for others. If one’s motives inherently are self-serving, how can that be leadership? One may argue that both can exist – a person may lead out of service but also desire to reap the benefits – and I would agree. But if the primary motivator is self and not others, that is not ethical leadership (and there is no such thing as unethical leadership, in my opinion).

Christian writers, fiction and non-fiction, take on a tremendous responsibility that I am not sure is often realized. As a Christian, I have the responsibility to advance His kingdom through my words (written and spoken). Yes, book sales and reputation and name recognition are important because we want encouragement that we are making a difference. But they cannot be prime motivators for creating works – He must always be first.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

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