Why Ethical Considerations in Leadership?

“Is there a difference between ethics and laws?”

This is the question that one of my students asked during a General Paper lesson.

We were discussing a question on accounts for the deteriorating professional ethics.

Yes, I put the question to class for discussion; very intriguing and remarkable ideas were raised by the students.

I was motivated to go and read about ethics.

Yes, I came across this very definition; Ethics are considerations that guide the decisions we make on what is good or bad.” This is according to Dr. Christopher Kayes, a professor of Management at the School of business – George Washington University.

Despite the hundreds and thousands of legal DO’s and DON’T’s existing, we continue to witness a deteriorating performance, justice, acceptable social behavior among other core societal values!

Is that the civilization in context?

The biggest dilemma here is how one, particularly a leader, balances the boat to keep sailing amidst the misplacement of focus from ethics to consonant laws.

Leaders understand that words and actions have consequences.

It is not easy to attain, but fathoming how people will react or perceive a leader’s actions is derived from considering those actions in the context of others.

From several leadership positions during my school time, I learned that some students (subjects) continued to trust me, others perceived my actions as ethical while another small chunk of them lost trust!

Upon reflection, I realized that on continuous perception that a leader’s actions are unethical, people lose trust and motivation.

In extreme cases, loss of trust gravely threatens an initiative, school, church, or organization.

I rethought my ways and mended them.

Without a personal code of ethics, leaders are left with little guidance in the face of difficult choices; such a situation is no different from a ship lost at sea without a compass to guide the captain.

Therefore, ethics help one to navigate difficult situations, build confidence that they have made the best and most ethical decisions even when they are not popular.

You can also read RESEARCH PAPER: Is your education educating you?

For a takeaway, to keep our code of ethics in check, we can deeply engage with some prime questions such as; Am I breaking any rules or set of acceptable beliefs? Is the action I am taking seen as fair by others? How would I feel about myself if I took an action? Is the action I am taking consistent with the values of my family and community?

These would cultivate a fertile ground for the growth of a personal code of ethics.

  • Mr. Cohens is teacher trainee, debate and speech coach. He writes from Kampala, Uganda. Contact: mugishacohens@gmail.com
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Mr. Cohens is teacher trainee, debate and speech coach. He writes from Kampala, Uganda. Contact: mugishacohens@gmail.com


  1. Wow, this is interesting to learn of leadership. Thanks Mr. Cohen’s. I now know that I always have to mend my trends in life when matters arise.


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