Exploring Ethical Leadership

23 June 2015 By Folio Community Leadership Program 2015

Participants in the Leadership Victoria’s Folio Community Leadership Program spent Saturday 20 June exploring ethical leadership and what it means to put ‘community’ in front of ‘leadership’.Here's one particpants reflection form the day.

At the start of the day, we were prompted by Chris Kotur, Leader in Residence (Leadership Victoria) to reflect on the depth and power of different forms of leadership within communities.  We explored the importance of truly listening to the malcontents, the campaigners – these are stories and perspectives we need to hear and understand as leaders within communities.

Chris highlighted the development of emerging forms of community leadership enabled by new ways of connecting (e.g. social media), organising and social action. She encouraged us to not lock ourselves into the ‘big picture/up in the clouds’ perspective, nor the ‘detailed on the ground’ perspective, but to hold ourselves between the two to find a wise way. Chris affirmed the power of sharing our stories and listening to the stories of others.  

Dr. Susan Inglis, consultant and lecturer in leadership and management with RMIT and La Trobe Universities, provided us with a comprehensive overview of a range of valuable concepts, models and research in ethical and responsible leadership. Susan reminded us of the influence ‘blind spots’ and the common risk of ‘ethical fading’ where the ethical implications of decisions are lost in the face of other goals. She prompted us to consider what a virtuous life means for us - ’what kind of person should I be and what do I want to be known for?’

Richard Dent OAM (Executive Director, Leadership Victoria) challenged us with the age old dilemmas of identifying the ‘right thing to do’ when decisions in life are rarely black or white. We explored concepts of the ‘circles of moral concern’, and added two new concepts for dinner conversations - Deontology (ethics linked to concept of duty and universal ethical rules) and Teleology (a utilitarian approach - assessing the best general benefit- the ‘greatest good’). Real life examples of perplexing ethical dilemmas illustrated the deep relevance and application of these ethical lenses. 

Through the presentations and the dialogue, Chris, Susan and Richard assisted us to delve into the values and the ‘moral compasses’ that guide our lives, the hidden and overt values that form the basis of our leadership, the judgements we make, our decisions and actions.  

These rich and reflective conversations assisted us to envision the possibilities of our own leadership and to further develop the Community Leadership Action Network (CLAN) projects for the program.

Kerry Stubbings, Frost Group. FCLP'15 participant.