Applying Values And Ethics In Educational Leadership Education Essay

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This paper discusses the extent to which ethics has received little attention in traditional mainstream leadership theories and proposes the need for research in applying a transformational authentic model rich in Aristotelian virtues and ethics in graduate educational administrative curricula training programs. This research project is created by the necessity that has been generated due to the failure of traditional academic leadership programs as is evidence by the numerous scandals noted both in media and in literature (Christakis & Christakis, 2012; Boren, 2012; Propheter & Jez, 2012).


Literature indicates that ethics has received little attention in traditional mainstream leadership curriculum theories. From a moral perspective traditional leadership training programs have failed to adequately teach ethical accountability in the past, there is an immediate and pressing need to promote values and ethical practices in school administrative settings by utilizing transformational leadership programs steeped in Aristotelian virtues. Academic leaders have a special ethical obligation above those in public administration. Educational leaders are entrusted with power (Ciulla, 2004), which brings with it a moral obligation to serve the interests of the academic organization, students, and stakeholders at all levels of academic administration.

The challenge has been in convincing academic institutions to think differently about traditional leadership by incorporating transformational leadership model programs into their academic curriculum administrative programs (Rucinski & Bauch, 2006). This is accomplished by transformational leaders grounding themselves in moral character and then promoting the following within their organization: 1) ensuring that ethical values are articulated in the school's vision, 2) creating aspirational movements that students, staff and all stakeholders can obtain, 3) developing ontological relationships that are founded on moral, ethical and relational connectedness, and 4) engaging in moral collective choices and behaviors that all can share and pursue together.

Statement of the Problem

Higher education administrators along with elementary and secondary academic leaders have serious challenges and responsibilities to provide effective, ethical leadership for their institutions. It is evident that academic leaders have not risen to the challenge or fulfilled their ethical duties when discharging their responsibilities (Kelley & Chang, 2007). Recent cases of ethical violations involving academic cheating have been noted in the media at Harvard University (Christakis & Christakis, 2012). Graham Spanier, the former president of Penn State University, was charged with covering up the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal (Boren, 2012).

Many have questioned if current leadership training curriculum found in administrative educational leadership programs fail to teach sufficient ethical accountability (Propheter & Jez, 2012). Research literature reveals a concern that a void exists, in strong ethical leaders who are prepared to successfully manage the difficult challenges and duties of providing effective, appropriate ethical leadership for all levels of schools (Boggs, 2004; de Russy & Langbert, 2005).

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to examine the ethical perspectives and leadership practices of those

in leadership positions in academic supervisory roles. The study will examine the relationships

among the ethical leadership practices as espoused by an authentic transformational leadership model. The aim of this research is to provide further insight into the complexities of leadership ethics and practices within academic leadership mainly, Aristotle's virtue constructs in educational leadership graduate training course work and how these values and ethics are to be integrated in educational leadership curriculum programs as fundamental elements of effective educational leadership as contrasted with traditional academic graduate leadership training programs.

Scholars have asserted that students, stakeholders and the larger community desire moral leaders with charter traits of passion, vision, and integrity. As such these are men and women of moral virtue who exercise Aristotelian virtues and are of sound judgment, demonstrate respect for others, genuine authenticy, empathy toward others, and care (Pijanowski, 2007).

Literature Review

Reasons for the Study

Pijanowski (2009) found that educational supervisors were prepared to converse on the subject of ethics instruction, in-part due to the fact that the topic of ethics does not get the attention in graduate programs it deserves. Additionally, Pijanowski suggests teaching ethics in graduate programs has changed little in over a decade and a half and an integrated approach to curriculum that incorporates moral learning theory is scarce. Propheter and Jez (2012) indicate that current training curriculum found in administrative educational leadership programs fail to teach sufficient ethical accountability. Bowen, et al. (2006), advocates that doctoral programs should place more emphasizes on ethics than on management. Starratt (1991) challenges us to question what does it mean to be a moral and ethical educational director and how does the academic community identify and measure the educational leaders commitment to moral character? This study will explore Aristotle's virtue constructs in educational leadership training course work and how these values and ethics are to be integrated in educational leadership curriculum programs as fundamental elements of effective educational leadership.

When it comes to academic administration and ethical behavior, many have proposed the following questions: Does academic leadership training curricula teach ethical accountability? Secondly, is what they teach sufficient? And lastly, is there a direct correlation in the merging of academic leadership with Aristotelian virtues that result in a more authentic type of leader? To be a moral and ethical educational administrator, one would need to uphold the ideals of justice, compassion, and empathy for the betterment of each member in the school in which he or she governs. Also, is there a need to identify and measure the educational leaders commitment to moral character in order to protect the interests of mutual stakeholders?

Peer-reviewed journals and articles define virtue, moral values, or ethical practice in the realm of academic leadership very differently. However diverse the definitions are, the authors acknowledge the call for greater ethical accountability in educational leadership.

The challenge presented is one of defining academic leadership through ethical dilemmas. Such dilemmas are confronted by diverse course content material that is lacking and considered insufficient for solving these difficult situations. The study will include the following research sub-headings for the purpose of direction and mapping out of the subject matter: applying values and ethics in educational leadership, the principled academic administrator, applying Aristotle's virtue constructs in educational leadership, a moral obligation to care in educational leadership, differentiating between values and ethics, integrating values and ethics in educational leadership curriculum programs.

Significance of the Study

A significant contribution of virtue ethical leadership based on a transformational model of authenticity is the bases of this study. The value of this research and its contribution to the field of education is, that it may increase our understanding of the moral process in academic administration as emphasized by Aristotelian virtues. When virtuous leadership principles are applied and operate within effective school administrators, these principles lead to excellence in character and the development of moral agents. These agents, bring with them a leadership commitment to personal growth and aspiration to what Woods (2007) describes as 'ideal authenticity'. Demonstrating the value of authentic leadership through Aristotelian principles as manifested by academic leaders who practice virtues through transformational supervision, may lead to evidence that curriculum programs that incorporate Aristotelian principles into their graduate training programs better prepare appropriate academic administrators. In turn, such research may provide support for continued professional development for all levels of school administration curriculum training programs.


Expanded research is needed to increase our understanding of the ethical dilemmas confronted by academic leaders. Challenges faced in educational institutions require ethical responses and insights based on values that are saturated in virtue. Values include appropriate morals, judgment, genuineness, empathy, care, respect for others and the courage to stand for what is right, not what is always popular. Studies that include comparisons between traditional academic leadership programs and those based on Aristotelian virtues should be conducted to determine effective comparison outcomes. Principled men and women who are trained in Aristotelian philosophy should engage the necessary policy and form strategies to ensure that every stakeholder's voice is heard. Academic leaders have a moral obligation to care about their staff, students, the constituents who have a vested interest in their academic establishment, and to the larger community in which they serve. These relationships are formed from an ontological concept, meaning they are 'logical'. When united in a common act of ethical consideration for one another, we logically uplift one another.

Additional consideration should be given to graduate programs training educational professionals in academic supervision. Course content should take into consideration the differences between values and ethics and how they should be integrated into the curriculum, espoused in the classroom and among all staff members. Applying Aristotelian values and ethics in graduate educational leadership programs may prove beneficial in restoring ethical prudence to academic administrative roles.