Leadership Trustworthiness And Ethical Stewardship Management Essay

This paper seeks to address the challenges that company leaders may face in order to achieve the commitment and trust of their fellow co-workers. This paper will also discuss the relations that may exist between “leadership behavior, perceptions about a leader’s trustworthiness, and the ethical duties” (Caldwell, Hayes & Long, 2010, p. 497). Additionally , this paper will also attempt to discuss elements surrounding ethical stewardship and the perceptions comprising those of interpersonal trustworthiness.

 Trustworthiness and Ethical Stewardship

The problem to be investigated is to potentially address the relationship between “leadership behavior, the perceptions about a leader’s trustworthiness, and the ethical duties” (Caldwell, Hayes & Long, 2012, p.497) that can be associated with interdependent styles of leadership. As mentioned in this particular article, the authors believe that there is a strong association between the concepts of leadership, trustworthiness and ethical stewardship. If such an association is to remain truthful, then it is essential to stabilize such relationships between these three elements in order to maintain the relationship between the organization itself and its stakeholders. An ethical stewardship must exist in some form in the organization and should be provided by the leaders of such organizations in order for other individuals to trust their behaviors. Incorporating such actions would lead to an increase in the non-leader’s commitment to the strategic goals of the organization and to the overall success and sustainability of the organization. In reading the article, good trusted leaders are needed to develop and enforce the ethical behaviors into the organization’s culture , not just by applying certain principles to the ethical side of the organization but also by following these ethical principles through their own actions and behaviors. Similar to past experiences and articles, it has sometimes been noted that , the worst leaders are those that end up as being described as being untruthful in keeping with their word, or do not seem to care about those working with them. Subsequently this form of leadership would not lead to the overall growth of the organization but rather lead to the creation of an organizational environment that would foster disloyal employees and leaders who would be constantly scrutinized.

Ethical Stewardship

The concepts surrounding ethical stewardship is defined in Caldwell et al. (2008) as implying that great leaders employed ethical stewardship to “maximize long-term wealth creation” through “creating relationships that maximize stakeholder ownership and commitment” (p.501). Davis et al. (1997, p. 24) stated that the theory of stewardship was a higher level of duty of governance that comprised the motivations of the manager which were largely based on pro-organizational behaviors rather than those which could have consisted of self-interest behaviors. In further discussing ethical stewardship, Ryan, Buchholtz & Kolb (2010) conducted numerous reviews of research drawing from theories of stewardship and “its assumptions of executive good will and firm-interest-maximizing motivation” (p. 681). Much of which was reviewed also was in discussing the relationships and how they were applied between CEOs and corporate boards. According to viewpoints obtained from the original ideas of the authors’s, good leaders must be ethical leaders that should establish strong associations with their followers. The applying of positive influences on followers by their leaders often would provide followers a reason to commit themselves and remain motivated to the overall goalss of the organizations. Those leaders that promoted a sense of ethical stewardship were influential because they created a collective work environment rather than a me-first attitude (Block, 1993). However, on some of the reviews conducted by the author’s, they noted that poor leaders were more likely to be unmotivated toward other followers which was found to have a detrimental impact on the organization, especially those that failed work in conjunction with their teams. In research studies conducted by Karnes, Karnes was able to demonstrate that a “lack of leadership disintegrates employer-employee relationship” (2009, p. 189), a viewpoint which was also matched by those of the authors in this article.

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Trustworthiness

            The definition of trustworthiness in organizational relationships has strong theoretical foundations. In the article, the author discussed the meaning of trust, and what forms a trustworthy behavior, he identified individuals that he felt were implicitly trustworthy according to his own “mediating lens” (Primeaux, Karn & Caldwell, 2003, Caldwell et al., 2009), and those that he does not trust. According to the author, individuals who are found to be most trustworthy scored well on the three-factor model of trustworthiness presented by Mayer et al. (1995). This three-factor model of trustworthiness is steadily found to be a parsimonious of trustworthiness and is widely used in the academic literature (Aquaveque, 2005; Caldwell and Clapham, 2003; Serva et al., 2004). According to Mayer et al. (1995), to be trustworthy one must first have the ability, skills, competencies, and characteristics to influence other parties within a specific domain. Secondly, one must have a benevolence desire to do good to the trustor aside from an egocentric profit motive. Lastly, one must have integrity to adhere to a set of standards and principles that the trustor finds acceptable.

From the author’s subjective experience, those leaders who best fostered growth and development of their organization and people were also included on his list of trustworthy individuals.  Those leaders, who were not so good, scored subjectively lower on Mayer et al.’s (1995) three-factor trustworthiness model.

The Linkages between Leadership, Trustworthiness, and Ethical Stewardship

                I believe that there is an interdependent relationship between leadership, trustworthiness and ethical stewardship. This relationship structured based on the essential need to stabilize and improve the relations between the organization’s leadership and organization’s stakeholders. On one hand, in order for the followers to develop a trust in the leader, ethical stewardship principles must be developed first and integrated into the organization’s culture by the leaders themselves. Not only that but the leaders must also manage and maintain these ethical standards and principles by demonstrating them through their own actions and behaviors. On the other hand, in order to pursue long-term organizational wealth and sustainability, leaders need to rise to the level of stewardship seeking to optimize the best interests of society, stakeholders, customers, and shareholders (Cladwell and Karri, 2005; Hosmer, 2007). Leaders who operate from a steward’s perspectives will always have creative solutions and vision to demonstrate their commitment to excellent outcomes (Pava, 2003).

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Ethical leadership priority balancing:

The author’s experience is also supported by the research of Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee (2001) who found that good employee relations with leadership “create climates in which information sharing, trust, healthy risk-taking, and learning . . . flourish” (p. 44). It is this focus on personal relationships that provides the “normative, or value-based, priorities” that an ethical leader must balance (Caldwell et al., 2009, p. 498). The other side of the scale is “instrumental or goal-related” priorities most commonly associated with resource utilization (p. 498).  The good leaders the author has known have encouraged individual growth and development – the learning of skills that will be of further benefit to both employee and company.  Poor leaders appear to often go to the same well, or look for necessary resources from the outside, rather than grooming the people they already have.

Congruence:

Based on the stewardship theory, the principles of virtue ethics (Manville and Ober, 2003; Solomon, 1992) are incorporated in the ethical stewardship based on congruence between the public good and the interests of the organization. Leaders who act as stewards are able to recognize that stakeholders’ interests are dynamically balanced but rarely perfectly aligned (Lado and Zhang, 1998). The role of the steward leader is to always quest for creative methods and solutions in order to create the balance between the organization and public. Congruency is the trait of doing what one says one will do and the ability to keep up with the balance between the organization’s interests and the public good.  This trait is in line with the third factor in Chemers model of leadership – image management (Caldwell et al., 2009, p. 498-499), although in that model it might be extended to mean that one consistently does what one says one believes. The research study by Caldwell et al. (2009) confirmed that the “three-factor leadership model accurately describes important elements of leadership behavior” (p. 508), although a stronger correlation exists between relationship building and resource utilization and the perception of trust by followers, and the perception that a leader is an ethical steward.

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Conclusion

Healthy sustainable organizations depend on the stability of the relationship between the organization’s leaders and the organization’s stakeholders. This stability can be developed by establishing a strong tight trust relationship between the leaders and followers. The author’s discussions, and the several research articles he reviewed, support the proposition that “employees want to work for a company that understands them and their needs, listen[s] to their problems, and is not overly judgmental as they always seek dialogues with their employers and want to collaborate together on issues” (Karnes, 2009, p. 194). The empirical research done by Caldwell et al. (2009) supports the theory and research of many writers, that the three factors most predictive of good leadership are proper relationship building, appropriate utilization of resources, and ethical image management. Further, their research supported the “role of trustworthiness as a critical antecedent to building personal commitment and trust” (p. 508). This trust in leaders is the key to creating added value for organizational stakeholders and increased wealth for the society. The authors concluded that their research validated the correlation between trust and the perception of a leader as an ethical steward (p. 508) and they see a future research opportunities for more studies of the approach to governance, specifically in terms of how it contributes to “long-term wealth creation and the establishment of strategic competitive advantage” (p. 508).


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