Saturday, January 7, 2012

Must Our Leaders Be Scoundrels, Too?

To do great things is difficult; but to command great things is more difficult. -- Friedrich Nietzsche
Is moral leadership possible? Why not? Is there anything which makes it necessary for a leader to act immorally? Or, on the other hand, is there anything about being moral that prevents someone from being a leader?

By “moral leader” some people think of those who call others to some well-defined standard of morality — for example, influential ministers, rabbis, imams or popes: a “moral authority.” Such moral authorities may have no personal power to “get things done.”

Another sense of “moral leadership” is a notion that people can be “real leaders” of organizations, who get things done, as opposed to “mere” administrators, officials, authorities or managers. The hope is that, in addition, such leaders will conduct themselves in a “moral” manner.

To get things done, power is essential. The quest for “moral leadership” is very much the problem of reconciling power with moral authority. Many of those who offer seminars in ethics for organizational leaders seem to think that there are no deep issues to be faced.

To examine these issues further, see LEADERSHIP vs. MORALITY: AN UNAVOIDABLE CONFLICT?

-- EGR