Essays on Leadership Ethics
New Horizons in Leadership Studies series
Edited by Joanne B. Ciulla, Terry L. Price and Susan E. Murphy
Chapter 7: Fairness as effectiveness: how leaders lead
Tom R. Tyler Let me begin by referring to recent surveys assessing American workers’ opinions of managerial ethics. In one study, American workers viewed the ethical nature of leader conduct as playing a key role in shaping their overall opinions of their leaders. In another study, Watson Wyatt Employee Attitudes and Opinions Survey finds that many employees question the ethics of management, with 44 percent indicating that the top management of their company is not honest.1 Here, dishonesty refers to hypocrisy, not criminal conduct. Although these numbers seem relatively high in comparison to other surveys,2 they still underscore the widespread finding that many employees are concerned about the ethical conduct of higher-level managers. The Watson Wyatt survey group manager, Ilene Gochman, suggests that these employee concerns about management ethics spell trouble for management, since “[o]ne of the biggest drivers in commitment to the company is trust in senior management.”3 Consistent with this argument, other survey results suggest that many employees would like to leave their current jobs. In fact, one survey shows widespread employee discontent with the climate in their current workplace, with estimates that eight out of ten workers are planning to look for a new job when the economy improves.4 The results of these surveys are consistent with a familiar theme in management – that the ethical climate of workplaces matters to employees.5 That argument is supported by experimental evidence that workers are less satisfied with workplaces characterized by injustice, less productive in such settings, and...
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