Traditionally, corporate leadership has been understood as a mechanism through which managers drive and inspire their employees to increase production and profits. This narrow, results-oriented view is slowly diminishing, however. An increasing number of contemporary theorists are asserting that leaders also have the responsibility to establish and maintain moral and ethical standards within their organizations. This mandate is commonly called “ethical leadership,” and is in greater demand today than perhaps any time since the advent of capitalism.
What has prompted this recent drive towards ethical standards and practice? Many point to numerous instances of commercial greed over the past decade that have generated headlines and untold angst. Countless stories of business self-indulgence and corporate failures, such as those involving Enron, Worldcom, Countryside, and Ponzi scandals highlight a corrupt corporate landscape in which values and ethical conduct take a back seat to the bottom line. And we all know the devastating outcome of these ill-fated decisions and cover ups. In response, many leaders have been rethinking competitive advantage and the costs of trying to achieve it. They have positioned beliefs and relationships at the center of their organizations, placing increased emphasis on how we behave, rather than on what we earn.
In a development that shocked no one, Republicans and Democrats were unable to agree on a spending plan for the fiscal year that started last Tuesday, leaving federal coffers short. The main issue was Obamacare, and whether the possibility existed for members of the GOP to overturn or at least lessen the impact of the controversial legislation. House Republicans have insisted that any new spending bill include provisions to defund, derail or otherwise reduce the scope of Obamacare. Senate Democrats are insistent that it does not.