Ethics and leadership are hand in glove, but the two can be disconnected to the point that neither is recognizable to the other. Certainly, there are times of crisis that generate stark differences enabling observers to vividly see incongruency, but what occurs when the times are less than chaotic?
Leaders can deceive themselves into thinking that only individuals that are looking are the ones that can see, or even worse, they convince themselves that no one is looking. The premise is flawed to the extent that everyone within a leaders purview is actually looking, and at the very least their constituents are able to sense the intent of what is happening. Partially due to the fact that as a species, humans are social beings, but also due to the fact that higher brain functions are capable of intercepting and interpreting elements of leadership that are conveyed via intent (Caution: Intent can be interpreted incorrectly). Regardless, the leader that operates in the environment that suggests that the only actions that they choose to be visible are the only actions that are visible, are guaranteeing themselves lost credibility, and at the very worst an ultimate, and complete rejection of the leader.
With heightened stakes, one method that all leaders can employ to guard against the predictability of regression is by employing Kant’s philosophy of ethics. Immanuel Kant proposed that all of humanity should be viewed as ends unto themselves, versus a means to an end. The principal of means to an end suggests that each element, used to attain the goal, is disposable, much like fuel that propels an automobile to its’ destination. Kant’s argument of treating humanity with respect, versus as the proverbial fuel propellant, effectively dismantles the potential and possibility of disconnecting ethics from leadership, and vice versa.
Additionally, his dissertation can guide leaders to help them remove potential challenges set forth by external pressures. Predictably, leadership and the treatment of individuals, teams and groups, can be challenged and buffeted by even the most robust, or simplistic (i.e. The Golden Rule) of theories, but, Kant offers a leadership principal that is possibly the most far reaching, and accessible, related to the duty of leadership.