Leading with Integrity: ethical leadership - a fundamental principle of integrity and good
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The development and assessment of 'integrity systems', sometimes referred to as 'ethics regimes', has generally focused on whether the right institutions, policies and procedures exist to achieve a system with integrity. However, no matter how sound these structures are, or how strong the "pillars" of integrity may be, or even how effectively they are integrated and coordinated, without the right human capital operating within them, such structures can achieve very little. In practice, it is people, primarily leaders at all levels, who drive organisational direction, create and sustain an ethical climate and provide major incentives or disincentives for organisational and employee ethical behaviour. The recently released Australian National Integrity System Assessment report highlighted the importance of organisational design and ethical climate by focussing on mapping effective ethics systems and analysing how elements of such a system interact. This paper attempts to extend this framework beyond a systems-focussed approach to more fully recognise the interplay of complex human relationships within organisations and across systems. Leadership is a critical dynamic. It influences the predictability of the behaviour of people in organisations. The development of leadership skills, underpinned by sound ethical decision making, is fundamental to creating organisations with people who "lead with integrity". Such an organisation is an invaluable asset to all stakeholders. This paper attempts to review the recent literature on ethical leadership. It aims to determine the key issues surrounding ethical leadership roles and how these might be better understood, assessed and enhanced - not just as valuable qualities in their own right, but as a key to organisational integrity. The paper also seeks to briefly examine some of the key areas and concepts dealt with in the general leadership literature which may contribute to this agenda.
GovNet eJournal was published between 2007 and 2008. An archived version of the original journal website is available via PANDORA - http://pandora.nla.gov.au/tep/145783