Linking Ethics to Leadership: The role of Leader’s Moral Identity and Moral Attentiveness
The ongoing question in the study of leaders’ ethical behavior is when and why leaders act in the service of human welfare. Previous studies placed their focus on the examination of organizational performance, ethical environment, and culture in organizations to delve into the antecedents and outcomes of ethical leadership. Among these studies, the social cognitive perspective provided a means of acknowledging that some individuals are more attentive to moral matters and that their behavior is shaped by their interaction with information. This perspective applied to ethical leadership proposed that leaders influence the ethical conduct of followers via observational learning, imitation, and identification. However, there is still the need to examine the association between ethical leaders’ ethical characteristics and ethical leadership, beyond personality and from the perspective of the leaders. In this study, we test a theoretical framework to examine leader’s moral identity and moral attentiveness as antecedents of ethical leadership focusing on the point of view of leaders. An online questionnaire was administrated to associations in Spain that integrate leaders working in different economic sectors from financial and marketing areas. Preliminary results from 192 participants are analyzed using descriptive statistic approach to investigate the components of the leader’s moral identity, how they face moral dilemmas, how the leader’s moral attentiveness is characterized, and how ethical leadership importance is perceived. Results show that Spanish female participants demonstrate higher moral identity and lower moral attentiveness than Spanish male participants and her behavior as leaders fits better with ethical leadership. No important differences appear between the financial leaders and marketing leader related to moral identity, but moral attentiveness scale shows higher values for leaders in the marketing area and these leaders show better fit with the statements in the ethical leadership.
Keywords - Ethical leadership, financial managers, marketing managers, moral attentiveness, moral identity, social cognitive theory.