Faculty Publications - College of Business

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This chapter examines ethical leadership in the small-group context. To help create groups that brighten rather than darken the lives of participants, leaders must foster individual ethical accountability among group members, ensure ethical group interaction, avoid moral pitfalls, and establish ethical relationships with other groups.

In his metaphor of the leader's light or shadow, Parker Palmer emphasizes that leaders shape the settings or contexts around them. According to Palmer, leaders are people who have "an unusual degree of power to create the conditions under which other people must live and move and have their being, conditions that can either be as illuminating as heaven or as shadowy as hell."1 In this final section of the text, I'll describe some of the ways we can create conditions that illuminate the lives of followers in small-group, organizational, global, and crisis settings. Shedding light means both resisting and exerting influence. We must fend off pressures to engage in unethical behavior while actively seeking to create healthier moral environments.


Originally published as chapter nine of Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership: Casting Light or Shadow, by Craig Johnson (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage).

ISBN: 9781506321639