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The Kantian approach to ethics and Ethical Leadership

This article is also published on LinkedIn.

With the pressures of innovation, globalisation and disruption constantly changing our working environments, we sometimes lose sight of the importance, interpretation and application of the word 'ethics', which in the past has often been used like a Christmas tree, pulled out of the cupboard once a year and then put back in again and forgotten about once the festivities are over.

Thankfully this is now changing with more and more leaders starting to understand the deeper meaning of Ethics, its underlying values and how practical application of ethics on a day by day basis positively influences leadership and decision making in organisations.

Gradually we are seeing a new generation of leaders emerge who not only understand the fundamentals of business ethics and the basics of its existence, but can embed the many facets of its cultural roots and beliefs into their own values and self-identity, aspiring to practically apply this knowledge on a daily basis.

These leaders know the meaning of a Kantian approach to ethics and their duty to do the right thing, they also understand a utilitarian approach to ethical decision making and try to make decisions for the good of all.

They have become subject matter experts at making the right decisions by applying Trevino and Nelsons ethical decision making process by trusting their gut feelings, understanding the impact and consequences for all parties and above all treating people as equals with care, authenticity and respect.

Yes, ethics has transformed them and become a way of life, Inbuilt into the fundamental values and self identity of what they aspire to be as a leader, and with this an overriding sense of ownership and accountability or duty as a Kantian would say to transfer their knowledge, values, and thought processes as a servant leader to others without reward, so that they too may lead by example.

Ethics should no longer be a lip service word or part of a tick and flick exercise, it should flow through the life blood of organisations and be part of everyone's DNA, waiting for us to unlock its treasures and truly understand its full meaning and potential, enabling us to practically apply its theory on a day to day basis and hopefully transfer this knowledge onto others so that they may benefit from doing the right thing for the good of all.

About the Author

Tony Beaven, CEO at Elders Financial Planning

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