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17 Mar

Ethical Leadership

Added by : Carol Scheepers

Our Leadership Matters Programme resolution for 2017 is to not only know what a personal ethical compass is but to intentionally use it to create an ethical and positive culture in our schools. This served as a key learning and topic at our 1st retreat and will be our leadership mantra this year. We know that throughout our life we look to others, our role models, for direction and unintentionally we model that behaviour. Our decision-making and actions impact on all around us so the challenge, therefore, is to step up as leaders and to lead by example.

We wear different shoes daily and if we have good dress sense the right shoes complement our dress code for that occasion. The same applies to wearing our ethical shoes when we are called upon to make the hard choices – this can be comfortable or painful at times. When we walk our talk positive behaviours are modelled and values-based change is effectively driven. In the words of William Penn, "Wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it and right is right even if no-one is doing it,” In reality, however, we know that it is easier to teach what is right than to do what is right. Much introspection was done at the retreat to discover what values are actually important to us. We can harness our leadership strengths but need to develop those norms and values where we fall short if we wish to be better leaders. So, how does one develop an ethical style of leadership and what is expected of us in the school context? In moments of choice, we either promote good relationships and collaboration or conflict and resistance - resulting in frustrated and unhappy colleagues, learners and parent body. It starts with examining our personal style and asking ourselves whether we are:

These pointers are summed up well by Tony Hsieh, "It doesn’t matter what the core values are, as long as the entire organisation commits to those core values. The most important thing in any organisation is alignment around values and vision.”

John Maxwell states that "All leadership is influence.” So it is then understood that Ethical leadership, is a style of leadership that focuses on the importance of ethical influence – sorely needed in our society.

Principles of ethical leadership CAN be effectively applied to our school environment. It will, however, require greater personal courage and commitment to ensure that our choices, decisions and actions are fair, just and right – a good yardstick to measure those behaviours.

What a legacy!

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