Begin with Purpose and Moral Leadership


Insights on how to lead with a purpose and inspire others to do the same

This morning, I saw the headline Why Moral Leadership Matters More Now Than Ever in the PRSA Issues and Trends newsletter. The World Economic Forum article presented topline outcomes from The 2020 State of Moral Leadership in Business report published by the HOW Institute for Society.

Highlights include the following points.

  • Moral leadership is in high demand but short supply.
  • Moral authority alone, without use of formal authority, can improve employee and business performance.
  • Managers with higher levels of moral leadership also build stronger connections with colleagues. They seem to maintain moral behaviors during crises.
  • Moral leadership increases business performance.
  • Professional development opportunities are not sufficient to encourage moral leadership.

A definition exists for moral leadership

Most of us have an idea of what it takes to become a purposeful leader. Think about leaders in your life, people whose influence made a difference because each person mattered in their work. In this study, recognizing each person’s individual worth happened somewhat naturally, as described below.

“These leaders are not simply well-behaved; they stimulate action by anchoring their daily work and the work of those around them – in a principled vision of what is good for the world.

2020 State of Moral Leadership in Business, The HOW Institute for Society
  • Moral leaders are advocates who see the humanity in everyone and take the time to build unique and deep relationships.
  • They see people not as means, but as ends in themselves.
  • They listen and learn from those they lead and are often more inclusive.”

A moral leader follows the golden rule

One of the major findings captures familiar advice: treat others as you would like to be treated, better known as the golden rule.  For me, this single recommendation is the most obvious and perhaps, the most basic approach to moral leadership. And I am not alone in this thought…

  • “79% of respondents agree their organizations would make better business decisions if they followed a golden rule: treat others as you would have them treat you.”

Other findings include the following data points.

  • 86% of respondents indicate an urgent need for moral leadership.
  • 74% of respondents say their colleagues would do a better job if managers at their organizations followed moral authority instead of formal power.
  • 46% of respondents say they would take a pay cut to work for a moral leader

Moral leadership requires an all-in attitude

While those at the top management levels typically govern an organization’s overall operational mindset, everyone within the company contributes in some way to outcomes. And those contributions typically align to stated goals that resonate under moral leadership.

In reality, moral authority can and should be exercised by everyone in an organization.

2020 State of Moral Leadership in Business, The HOW Institute for Society

The Covid-19 pandemic hastened the need for moral leadership as the world continues to change and challenge so many. It isn’t complicated; moral leadership is a choice to consider for a cultural shift in any organization of any size.

What are your thoughts on moral leadership?

Another source: The PRSA Code of Ethics offers guidelines for PR practitioners.

Joyce Lofstrom, APR

Lake Michigan – Chicago, Illinois (Photo by Artem Zhukov)

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Joyce Lofstrom, APR, brings people, places, organizations and services to life with words...she is a former journalist and a current content developer and writer. Joyce Lofstrom & Associates offers content development, editing, and public relations expertise to clients in the health care and digital health technology marketplace.

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