The Quest for Moral Leaders

The Quest for Moral Leaders

Essays on Leadership Ethics

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Edited by Joanne B. Ciulla, Terry L. Price and Susan E. Murphy

The quest for moral leaders is both a personal quest that takes place in the hearts and minds of leaders and a pursuit by individuals, groups, organizations, communities and societies for leaders who are both ethical and effective. The contributors to this volume, all top scholars in leadership studies and ethics, provide a nuanced discussion of the complex ethical relationships that lie at the core of leadership.

Chapter 2: Emotional leadership, emotional integrity

Robert C. Solomon

Subjects: politics and public policy, leadership


1 Robert C. Solomon the leader is in the realm of transcendence, Beyond the inessential freedoms. He decides. And a mysterious grace makes his decision what is essential. (Jean Paul Sartre, Notebooks for an Ethics, p. 10) Leadership is about people’s emotions. People are moved by their emotions. People are motivated by their emotions. People are “swayed” by their emotions. People make decisions on the basis of their emotions. (Indeed, recent research has shown quite convincingly that rational decisions are quite impossible without emotions.2) What’s more, emotions are “contagious.” They affect other people, not just by virtue of the consequences of emotional behavior – that is very obvious – but our emotions determine, often by way of a demonstrably sub-rational and unconscious route, others’ emotions as well. An inspirational leader spreads his or her enthusiasm, virtually injects it, into his or her followers. And more generally, an atmosphere of enthusiasm generates more enthusiasm, as laughter generates more laughter, as anger and indignation generate more anger and indignation, as despair generates more despair. Whatever else an effective leader does, whether he or she makes people think, or remember, or act, he or she makes others feel, whether pride or hatred or indignation or love or fear. Accordingly, there has been considerable interest in the role that emotions play in leadership, but most of it has been interest in the emotions of followers, the emotions inspired, evoked, or provoked by leaders. Thus Aristotle, in his Rhetoric, literally wrote the book (or the first of...

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