Leadership and Ethic

Much has been said and written about the figure of the leader and still, rightly, it is studied because times evolve and, in this matter, there is nothing standardized.

There is no doubt that, among the characteristics of leadership, there must be ethical duties.

The leader is required to take into account an increasingly complex world, the technological revolutions in progress, but also the parallel human and social ones; revolutions not always visible, immersed as we are in current everyday life.

Apart from the fact that ethics should be part of the modus vivendi of each of us, within leadership, there are many commitments and duties that cannot be separated from ethical behavior, an ethic that gives body and validity to leadership itself.

Once the objective (mission, idea, project) has been validly identified, “Ethics” can be defined as verifying that the objective is effectively aimed at the values ​​and principles of the Common Good and the choice to pursue this objective and this common good with consistency in time and space.

The common good is not always easily identifiable and often there may be social and general interests in conflict with each other. Furthermore, the concept can have its own variability and maturation in time and space.

The Common Good can be defined as the practice and action that places the general interest, of all, above the private interest. Which, in the private interest, safeguards the utility of public interest.

A practice and a free activity but harmonized with the social function. Such as, for example, protecting the health of citizens, protecting the quality of the environment, protecting the territory, respecting the production of income, properly disposing of waste, etc.

The ethical requirements related to leadership that immediately stand out are the behavioral of legality and respected rules, of transparency and correctness, of honesty. Otherwise, the missions, objectives, economic, social, scientific, and cultural projects are destroyed, as well as the civil life of a group, of a community.

Transparency and traceability are increasingly the responsibility of leadership and have the power of example.

The ethics of honesty and fairness are not charity or philanthropy, but objectivity, realism of coexistence, social justice.

The importance of the goal to be achieved never justifies the adoption of non-legal, incorrect, unethical means and criteria. To win, yes, with a lot of determination and a lot of commitment that is always necessary, but not at any cost, such as that of corruption.

From an ethical point of view, not even the presumption of the soloist, the protagonism and irresponsible ambition, the career outside the contents of the reality of mission and objective, makes sense. Modern man must limit and contain the seduction of individual power for more valid and important goals, achieved collectively.

Ethics, especially in the current historical context, must be also trust in the future, self-esteem, find in oneself the stimuli and motivations for life and project missions, think positive even without the certainty of the result and success that creates performance anxiety and psychological tension. Thinking in a group or community without self-referential complacency but always willing to confront, compete, accept competition, tolerance, and respect for the other, for the different.

Ethics does not allow slipping into cynicism, it requires concrete implementation, interfacing, and dialogue with collaborators, communication with extended governance, with society, with the mass media.

Ethics always requires synthesis and decision-making.

It needs communication on what has been conceived, designed, and implemented and an action of convincing towards the inevitable resistance to change and towards indifference.

Ethics has a duty to innovate as possible in line with the historically inexorable changes in science, technology, human needs, and the relationships of civilized life, to make objectives and projects sustainable over time.

Ethics means evaluating missions and projects both with the scientific and technological culture and with the humanistic culture. Culture is, and always will be, unique, and the final evaluation must always and in any case be brought back to man, to his history, to his existential purposes. Man must not be guided only by technology.

In conclusion, leadership and ethics live in a close connection if they are aimed at objectives also of the common good and of coherence of interpretation and implementation, which alone give authority and credibility to the thought and work of man.

And the leader is first of all a man!

Any comments are particularly appreciated.


Aldo Delli Paoli
Aldo Delli Paoli
Aldo is a lawyer and teacher of law & Economic Sciences, "lent" to the finance world. He has worked, in fact, 35 years long for a multinational company of financial service in the auto sector, where he held various roles, until that of CEO. In the corporate field, he has acquired skills and held positions as Credit Manager, Human Resource Manager, Team leader for projects of Acquisition & Merger, branch opening, company restructuring, outplacement, legal compliance, analysis and innovation of organizational processes, business partnerships, relations with Trade Unions and Financial Control Institutions. After leaving the company, he continued as an external member of the Board of Directors e, at the same time, he has gone back practicing law and was a management consultant for various companies. He has been also a columnist for newspapers specializing in labor law, automotive services and work organization. His interests include human behavior in the organizational environment, to the neuroscience, the impact of new technologies, the fate of the planet and people facing poverty or war scenarios. He loves traveling, reading, is passionate about many sports, follows the NBA and practices tennis.

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  1. Reading your post and this quote in particular “The Common Good can be defined as the practice and action that places the general interest, of all, above the private interest. Which, in the private interest, safeguards the utility of public interest” dear Aldo Delli Paoli made me question many related issues.

    Take environmental issues. as an example. We all claim that we care for the environment and distort sometimes the research findings to maximize profit, regardless of the harm we inflict on the environment.

    With the greed for profit is this greed eating out ethics?

    I like the ethics that you include in the post such as transparency and fairness. In a VUCA world with rising Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity adhering to these challenging environment like a rubber band.

    I mean people stretch the rubber if it serves their own purposes. They benefit from the undefined issues because of their VUCA. Environmental issues is again a good example. Those parties who benefit from this vagueness escape with alternative explanations.

    This is a well-thought post and is quite challenging.