The Impact of Ethics and Moral Development

The Impact of Ethics and Moral Development

Within the realms of cultural origins, there is a significant variance in individual values, as people have different values influencing the way they see and understand things. Most people have several values and often apply them simultaneously in the context of their lives. In the context of leadership, leaders have an obligation towards those they lead to set a moral example and to determine activities that may be detrimental to the values of the society. Leaders must also exhibit ethical behaviors when doing what is morally upright when they help elevate moral awareness and moral self-actualization among team members. Indeed, ethical leadership demands more than ethical practices. Thus, in their basic tenets, ethics and moral development have a significant impact on leadership practice.

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By virtue, human nature is good, or at least it leans decidedly towards the awareness and preferences of good over evil and injustices. Moral development is usually laden with culture-specific values and religious meaning, which are influential in forming individual’s values and life perspectives (Weichun, 2008). On the other hand, Weichun defines ethics as universal standards and commitments supporting justice, welfare, and rights of the people. Essentially, people want leaders who are honest and can be trusted (Daft & Lane, 2008). Unfortunately, a majority of the organizations have limited consideration for ethics. Leaders are constantly pressured to do everything possible to meet the demands of the stakeholders, to increase profits, cut costs, and ensure organizational success among others. Virtually, creating an ethical organization requires that leaders should consider the moral principles in their roles. Ideally, when leaders believe ethics and moral principles, they act with honesty, are straightforward in their dealings, and ensure fairness. Similarly, leaders who operate on higher levels of moral development are often focused on the needs of their followers and the universal moral values. In addition to the above, leaders who act based on ethics and moral development are not afraid to stand what is right, take risks, raise their opinions, and fight for what they believe in.

Personal Ethics and Moral Development

Numerous theories exist to elaborate on the expectation of individual’s ethical and moral development. Some are vague and finite, while others are detailed. I respect them all, and this has influenced my personal ethical and moral development. Personally, I believe that flexibility is essential in effective leadership. Leaders should have the ability to switch one’s leadership styles and behavior to accommodate others. Ideally, it is not about changing myself; rather it is about getting out of my comfort zones to understand others. It is about being able to accommodate other people’s differing perspectives and working around it. Along with that, the flexibility has also allowed me to understand the various backgrounds and how this diversity can be limiting others into doing what is expected of them within the organization.

Moral development affects ethical code

By all intents and purposes, moral development affects ethical decisions. According to Lussier (2015), in the stages of moral development, a person chooses to do what is right or wrong based on their self-interest or the possible outcome of their behavior. The individuals who have advanced in their ethical reasoning often focus on maintaining standards and meet other people’s expectations. Similarly, there is also the third category of individuals who choose to do the right thing regardless of what others will think. Ostensibly, as an individual, I believe that other people’s opinions, cultural backgrounds, and values matter when making a decision. However, over the years, I have developed more self-awareness, I am also confident about my values, perspectives, and understand that they determine who I am. I have learned the art of standing for what is right because it is the most ethical thing to do.

What do you consider a code of ethics?

In its simplest definition, codes of ethics are guiding principles designed to help professionals conduct themselves with honesty and integrity (Coombs & Holladay, 2013). Code of ethics usually outlines the mission and values of an organization, and ways in which professionals are expected to approach problems. Ideally, there are different types of codes of ethics. From a personal point of view, the most feasible and viable code of ethics is the value-based. Virtually, the value-based code of ethics often deals with the core value system of the organization. It focuses on the standards of responsible behavior and its relation to the public good and environment. It also expects professionals to observe a higher level of self-regulation as opposed to compliance-based codes. Ordinarily, professionals serving people must have a code of ethics.

At what point do you believe someone develops a code of ethics

Essentially, most people rely on a code of ethics to make ethical decisions on what and how to handle specific situations. The value statement of an individual code of ethics lies in its usefulness in all angles of their professional practice. Ideally, with all its importance, it remains unclear when people develop a code of ethics. Nonetheless, it can be said that people develop a code of ethics when they reach the third stage of development since it is at this juncture where individuals make decisions based on what is right without allowing others to influence them.

Society expects leaders to set high standards of moral and ethical conduct to emulation by others. Leaders who are guided by their moral development and ethical values often promote ethical procedures, policies, and processes among the people they lead. Ethical leaders are also able to set exemplary examples for others and enable them to develop their moral identity. They also understand that their moral development should not override or compromise their ethical values.


Coombs, W. T., & Holladay, S. J. (2013). It’s Not Just PR: Public Relations in Society. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Daft, R. L., & Lane, P. G. (2008). The leadership experience. Mason, OH: Thomson/South-Western.

Lussier, R. N. (2015). Management Fundamentals: Concepts, Applications, & Skill Development. Los Angeles, California: Sage.

 Weichun Zhu. (2008) “The Effect of Leadership on Follower Moral Identity: The Mediating Role of Psychological Empowerment,” Kravis Leadership Institute, Leadership Review, 8,  62-73.

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