Moral Person and Moral Manager: How Executives Develop a Reputation for Ethical Leadership

by Linda Treviño, Laura Hartman, Michael Brown



Executives should not take a reputation for ethical leadership for granted. Based on interviews with senior executives and corporate ethics officers, this article reveals that a reputation for executive ethical leadership rests on two essential pillars: the executive’s visibility as a moral person (based upon perceived traits, behaviors, and decision-making processes) and visibility as a moral manager (based upon role modeling, use of the reward system, and communication). Developing a reputation for ethical leadership pays dividends in reduced legal problems and increased employee commitment, satisfaction, and employee ethical conduct. The alternatives are the unethical leader, the hypocritical leader (who talks the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk), and the ethically neutral leader (who may be an ethical person, but employees don’t know it because the leader has not made ethics and values an explicit part of the leadership agenda). The article also offers guidelines for cultivating a reputation for ethical leadership.

California Management Review

Berkeley-Haas's Premier Management Journal

Published at Berkeley Haas for more than sixty years, California Management Review seeks to share knowledge that challenges convention and shows a better way of doing business.

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