The debate of leadership as skill


There has been a debate from a long time whether leadership is a skill, trait or an innate behaviour. Most management educators now agree to the dual definition of leadership which says that it is both a skill and a behaviour that exhibits that skill. However this dual definition has generated additional controversy that whether leadership could be taught or not (Doh, 2003).

According to Price (2000), we often look for behaviour of the leader behind being failing as a ethical leader .it's more about the morality on the part of the leader to decide what is right and what not to do .though the less ethical leader knows that what they are doing is morally wrong, still they are motivate to do it for some reason.

Literature has the role to play to impart awareness which could be beyond the intellectual studies. It can drive us in an emotional ay and builds an awareness and self knowledge in our sub conscious minds. it plays an important part in the building up of a good ethical leader or a leader in general as it gives a new vision to see the things in a fresh way which stimulates the imagination and encourages the feeling of empathy with other people thus enabling to inducing traits of a good ethical leader ( Leavy, 2006).

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According to Leavy (2003), there has been a corporate misconduct existing in the early years of the new millennium which has been alarming for the businesses in the western countries .it could be the clear problem with the education of our leaders and preparing them morally, emotionally and intellectually for the job responsibilities. So the question is to find out what is missing in the ethical development of our leaders and what approach we follow in order to do it.

The question has its roots in the area of moral psychology .it is deeply associated with the ethical aspect of any leader. According to this psychology we act immorally sometimes because we are more motivated to do something which is not moral and not because we lack moral standards. This shows ethical failure of leaders in the organisations. So the leaders know they are doing ethically wrong as they simply have to do it, which further means human morality alone is not sufficient to explain the ethical failure by leaders. Leadership brings with it various cognitive challenges which leads to ethical failure. In fact leaders cannot follow the requirements of morality as they are bound to the outcomes of the organisation (Price, 2000).

According to Banerji & Krishnan (2003), there are four factors of transformational leadership which are charisma, inspirational leadership, intellectual simulation and individualized consideration; it would be interesting to note the factors responsible for unethical behaviour of a leader. there are other ethical scenarioes such as bribery , entangling the physical environment , lying , personal gain , favouritism are being studied around in multinational organisations. There have been relations between the ethical behaviour and the three outcomes such as follower's willingness to put in extra efforts, perceived effectiveness and satisfaction which were also analysed. Results indicate that there is a negative relation between inspirational leadership and leader's preference for bribery and favouritism. It shows a need to moderate the relation between transformal leadership and ethics.

It is important to understand the ethical framework for educational leadership in order to make one a good ethical leader (Starratt, 2000). According to Doh (2003) leaders need character more than the knowledge. Values and ethics are more important in order to be a good ethical leader. While the more basic sort of leadership is taught, it is on the person to exhibit a more responsible, ethical leadership.

According to Elmuti, Minnis & Abebe(2006), we see that present leadership education is not sufficient in many ways and more work needs to be done. If the case is that leaders are born and not made and they cannot be taught to improve then we should study the case in the biology lab rather than the business world.

Leadership has been studied and discussed with various perspectives from a long time, but it is still a complicate topic to comment .although many researchers believe that leadership is both a skill and a behaviour that exhibits that skill it is hard to say that whether leadership can be effectively taught. This is one of the most debatable questions in today scenario.

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An crucial assumption in the field of scholarly work is that people start with learning which changes their style of working . this leads to their growth in the organisation . this also impacts in enhancing their individual effectivenesses . though it is harf to debate that good leaders are born or made , it could be said that that leadership has its roots in genetics partly along with early childhood development and the adult experience .scholard suggests that due to dynamic changes in ythe economy and technology , managers and leaders in todays organisations needs to be be engaged

In constant learning and education processes . recent events in the business world such as scandakls relate dto ethical perspectives brings out the importnave of leadership . precipitous decline of Enron, Arthur Anderson, and WorldCom has caused mnay questions in the role of education in developing and equipping business leaders .

There are various critical factors in leadership . some of the questions could be as :

Can leadership be taught? If yes then how it could be accomplished ?

What are teh most common challenges that we are facing in developing leaders with the necessary ethics, values and character?

. What is wrong with leadership education particularly in America in the light of

the recent corporate scandals?

. How can leadership education contribute in rectifying this problem?

There should be focuses on the leadership education effectiveness and, based on

the case of American corporate leadership failures, the missing elements in the

contemporary leadership education and it suggests some practical recommendations

as to how to enhance its quality and effectiveness.

Essence of leadership

The concept of leadership has been defined by many people in various ways often

based on a specific discipline and personal experiences

One of such definitions is from the most authoritative source on leadership

research and theory - The Handbook of Leadership (Bass, 1990). It defines leadership

as an interaction between members of a group. Leaders are agents of change; persons whose

acts affect other people's acts affect them. Leadership occurs when one group member

modifies the motivation or competencies of others in the group (Gibson et al., 2003).

Rosenbach (2003) defines leadership as a process of the leader and followers engaging in reciprocal influence to achieve a shared

purpose. It is all about getting people to work together to make things happen that might not

otherwise occur, or to prevent things from happening that would ordinarily take place.

Leaders are generally responsible for overall organizational effectiveness as measured

by production, efficiency, quality, flexibility, satisfaction, competitiveness and

organizational development (Gibson et al., 2003). Avery and Baker (1990) on the

other hand defined leadership as:


leadership skills is a process of influence between a leader and his followers to attain group, organizational

and societal goals (Elmuti, Minnis and Abebe)

Grimshaw (2001) states that as more facilities managers consider themselves to be 'professional'', the issue of ethical awareness within the conduct of facilities management practice cannot be avoided. This article seeks to review the issues involved in raising ethical awareness amongst facilities managers. It examines the intimate relationship between professions and ethics, and highlights the main characteristics of ethical codes in related professions. It reviews the arguments for facilities management being a profession and examines the relationship between facilities management and business ethics. It illustrates ethical dilemmas for facilities management in the stakeholder debate and maps out an agenda for raising ethical issues in the profession Ethics is the philosophical study of the moral value of human conduct and the rules that govern it. Its practical manifestation relates to codes of normative behaviour for society and an awareness of issues within society that have moral importance. Ethics has been particularly associated with specific groups in society that are deemed to have social responsibility. Of the two main branches of ethics it is the deontological approach, originating in the work of Kant, and based on the concepts of duty and obligation, that is the most relevant (L'Etang, 1992). It is also useful to reflect on the meaning of the word profession. It is derived from the medieval Latin profession referring to the taking of vows upon entering a religious order. The lineage of modern professions can be traced from this monastic origin and they still retain an element of the denial of self-interest and of social duty. Whilst Cogan (1953), in defining a profession, concentrated on the vocational aspects of applying ``an understanding of the theoretical structure of some department of learning or science'', Lennertz (1991) has maintained that the essence of a profession above other complex social institutions is its This article has established some important elements in establishing both the need for ethical awareness in FM and the nature of the action to be taken to ensure it happens. The basis for FM to be regarded as a profession is not its own self-image or the attitude of business towards FM services, but whether or not FM serves a public interest. Its involvement with the management of the physical infrastructure of business appears to give it that public dimension as its actions directly affect people's well-being, but the nature of the link needs much further discussion. Ethical awareness is an important part of this discussion.

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The instigation of ethical debate would give FM wider credibility and status with the

public, and would avoid too close an association with the ``instrumentalist'' ethics

of individual businesses. Professional codes have been shown to be useful over and above business codes, they are preferred by members and have a wider credibility. They provide a useful lever for professional facilities managers to resist unethical demands from clients where business needs clearly conflict with the public interest.

Finally, the most useful attribute of ethical awareness is to focus FM on those issues that have a moral as well as a purely business dimension. The workplace is changing so that the opportunities for FM to play a significant role in setting the ethical agendas are manifold. However, leadership is required from the professional bodies to develop a culture whereby the ethical values and practice can evolve. Professional bodies have a responsibility to promote ethical awareness and initiate debates on ethical issues within the profession. They need to work hand in hand with practitioners, educational establishments, and employers to develop a professional culture within which ethics can flourish. Although a start has been made, the professional bodies need to understand much more about the attitude of members towards ethical issues and professional duty and this can only be done through research. Without this engagement with the membership and the issues, professional recognition is a pipe dream.

3, 2008

Richard Branson's as a business leader

Sir Richard Nranson is on eof the worlds most popular business leaders who has their grounds in ethical aspect of the business . Branson has plans for turning the uninhabitated Mosquito Island in the British Virgin Islands in the world's most eco-friendly resort . this shows some elements of ethical leadership as it favours teh environemnet and His vision includes harnessing all necessary power from wind and sun, use of biofueled vehicles, use of cool thermal airflows instead of air conditioning, and an organic orchard. The proposal is currently under review by the British Virgin Islands' planning department.

Branson also plans to start Virgin Green Owls in August, an eco-consulting firm to assist governments and corporations in becoming more environmentally-friendly(Dr N, 2008).

Virgin rail crash is a leadership challenge for Richard Branson and John Armitt

There was a Virgin rail crash on February 25, 2007 which brought a challenge for Richard Branson and John Armitt who was a aliance for Branson .as very crisis brings out a challenge and is the time where the leadership qualities are most evident . some of the challenges in the Cumbrian rail crash was for the emergency services team qnd the role of leadership (Leaders we deserve, 2006).

Leadership visibility and contributions

Richard Branson wsa reported as cutting short a holiday and get back to teh scne of cgarsh . his statements were widely reported when he visited the casualties in the hospital . he appreciated the braveness of theh driver Iain Black who was too injured. He conveyed teh message that the design of the train had been a mojor facor in minimising the scale of sufferings that occued .Branson has been seen as an energetic , empathic and decisive leader

Assessing the leadership contributions

Richars branson is truley a charismatic leader according tpo all expectations .he was decisive , empathic and a powerful image with the people and teh media too .

there was a list posted on the web to vote for the Britain's greatest business leaders where Branson was competing with other major names . the candidates were assessed on the basis of economic success, philanthropy, their lasting legacy. Richard Branson for his ability to succeed in areas while others are floundering. His competetiveness and vision is uncanny(BBC, 2002). 

The most important issue in Business Ethics

Conflict of Interest

Beusienss ethics could be seen from different perspectives such as the employee;s perspective, organisations perspective , and societie;s perspective as a whole . most often situations arises when when there is a conflict of inetset between two or more parties . it means serving the interest of one party conflicts th e intesrte t of other . for instance , a scenario may be good for the employee but it may be detrimental for the organisation or the society or vice bersa .

Business analysts usually disagree about the purpose of business ethics in the society .they ay that the main aim of the business is the profit , which means maximising returns to its woners or stakeholders .this soleoly encourages teh activities which increasres profitalbility and discourages others which reduces profits . in this competitive age it is believed that companies which aim at profit amximising are likely to surive .however companies still have to obey teh laws and adhere to teh basic moral and ethical rules otherwise it could be costly for the companies in terms of penaltie s , fines , loss of licensure and the reputation of the company as a whole .

Some arfue that organisations as a whol,e do not have a moral responsibility and ethical behaviour is requires more from teh individual human beings rather than from the business or the organisation . while others argues that business has its ownmoral duties hwich goes beyond just simply obeying the law . these moral durties extends beyond serving the interests of the owners and the stakeholders . They believe a business has moral responsibilities to so-called stakeholders, people who have an interest in the conduct of the business, which might include employees, customers, vendors, the local community, or even society as a whole. Businesses have obligation to bith primary and secondary stakeholders .primary stakeholders are the people such as stock holders and are affected directly wgile the secondary stakeholders are not affected directly such as the government . stakeholders have certain rights with regards to teh operationof teh business and includes rights of governance.

Ethical issues are evident when the companies have the obligation to comply with multiple legal or cultural standards which are conflicting with each other .this is seen more commonly in multinational companies that operate in countries with cultural diversity and varying practices .so the question arises that , is the company ought to obey the laws of its homw country or to follow the less stringent laws of the developing country where it operates the business? For example where bribery is forbiddeb by law in teh developed countries either domestically or overseas , it is accepted in other parts of the wold as accepted way of doing business . other problems could be evident are child labour , employee safety, work hours ,wages , discrimination and environmental protection laws(Business Ethics, 2010).

Most of the ethical dilemmas faced by managers in the workplace are highly complex. Wallace explains that one knows when they have a significant ethical conflict when there is presence of a) significant value conflicts among differing interests, b) real alternatives that are equality justifiable, and c) significant consequences on "stakeholders" in the situation. Kirrane mentions that when the topic of business ethics comes up, people are quick to speak of the Golden Rule, honesty and courtesy. But when presented with complex ethical dilemmas, most people realize there's a wide "gray area" when trying to apply ethical principles (McNamara , 2000)