Building Moral Leadership at the Organizational Level

Being a moral leader requires constant wrestling with questions of right and wrong, and fairness and justice. Moral leaders regularly ask themselves if what they are doing is compatible with their purpose. They build moral wisdom by inviting others to join in these discussion and by taking responsibility for their behavior.

Moral leadership at the organizational level requires a critical mass of individuals willing to put in the effort to continually build their moral leadership muscle. The research in the December 2022 State of Moral Leadership in Business report confirms that the imperative for moral leadership is more urgent than ever. Data collected from 2,500 employees across a variety of sectors in the United States demonstrates a deep desire to work with and for moral and ethical leaders. On an optimistic note, most employees in our analysis believe moral leadership in business is something that can be learned. Despite this optimism, the level of investment that companies are making in growing and supporting the proliferation of moral leadership remains underwhelming and insufficient.

Organizations can close this gap by investing in both formal and informal opportunities to help employees build the habits, ethical practices, and capabilities of moral leadership. In fact, moral leadership development focused on principled decision-making seems to have a unique correlation with exceptional organizational outcomes. Specifically, employees reporting their organization invests in professional development in principled decision-making are more than two times as likely to strongly agree that they have satisfied customers, that their organization is positioned for improved business results, and that their organization adapts quickly to change.

Executives and managers alike can’t afford leaving this leadership development to chance. They have a responsibility to help employees see how their work contributes to an organization’s purpose and how they can act on both their personal values and those of their organization along the way.

infographic that shows that employees reporting their organization invests in professional development in principled decision-making are more than two times as likely to strongly agree that they have satisfied customers, that their organization is positioned for improved business results, and that their organization adapts quickly to change.