North Dakota State Soil Conservation


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Enhancing Ethical Leadership


  • It’s ethical as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone
  • I’ve got it coming; they owe me
  • It’s for a good cause
  • If it’s necessary, it’s ethical
  • I’m just fighting fire with fire
  • Everyone else is doing it
  • It’s a dumb rule

Characteristics of Ethical Leaders

  • Fair and just – everyone is treated equally
  • Respect for others – values contributions of others and cares for all
  • Honest and loyal – trust is built by followers when leader is honest and loyal to them
  • Humane – everyone is treated with kindness

Ethical Decision Making

  • Would you do it in front of your community members, children, spouse, or parents?
  • Would you do it if it was going to be on the front page of the newspaper?
  • Would you want it done to you?
  • Do you need to rationalize it to justify it?
  • Are you a “walking defense mechanism”?

Source: Vettern, R. (2016). Being an ethical leader. Presentation for NDSU Extension Service.

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