Practices of Leadership contribute to managing sustainability

In this essay I will undergo a critical argument that expresses there are practices of leadership which contribute to managing sustainability of a business in the post-bureaucratic era. ‘…The process of directing, controlling, motivating, and inspiring staff toward the realization of stated organizational goals…’ (Cleg, Kornberger & Pitsis 2011). The decisions that are made by management or leadership can have effects on the businesses reputation; hence whether the organization wants to maximise profits or place an emphasis on the ethical decisions made; portraying the idea the decisions made may be legal but is it ethical. In section one through Cameron, Bright & Caza (2004) and others I will explain how individual virtuousness expands to organizational virtuousness which is influenced by leadership, and is therefore expressed through the nature of the business.

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Further on I will examine the link between the influences of religion, ethical values, age and gender to the variations within levels of relativism and idealism to the ‘trait leadership theory’ which influences a leaders decision making in relation to ethical issues to a certain extent. Through Stubbs & Cocklin (2008) and others I am able to analyse how the leaders; mainly conscious leaders, within the business initially drove the changes through the emphasis on concept of stakeholders within the business to incorporate a ‘sustainability business model’. Therefore it is evident that practices of leadership develop and nurture certain aspect of creating a sustainable business, whether it be ethical decisions or stakeholders over shareholders.

Through Cameron, Bright and Caza studies explore how organizational performance is related and linked to virtuousness within the organization. Therefore highlighting how leadership practices affect the outcomes and actions that the business will take in relation to their ethical decisions. Such studies express the differences within leadership practices and attitudes affect how they can lead to different actions taken within the business. Timberlands CEO, Jeffrey Schwartz stated ‘If we don’t make money, no amount of virtue will do our firm any good. Wall Street will ignore us, and we will soon be out of business. We must have bottom line performance for virtuousness in our firm to be taken seriously’ (Cameron, Bright & Caza, 2004, p 770).

Therefore this highlights that the idea of virtuousness in certain organizations have no benefit if there are no pragmatic outcomes, reinforcing the idea of a classical business theory to maximise profits. Hence highlighting an authentic post-bureaucratic leadership where there is pressure on enhancing performance within the business and less emphasis on virtues in comparison to a conscious leadership. However the conscious leadership aspect highlights the notion of integrity and virtue which is therefore expressed through the virtuousness idea of providing an amplifying affect. “…love, empathy, awe, zest, and enthusiasm . . . the sine qua non of managerial success and organizational excellence” (Fineman 1996, p 545).

This notion expresses the idea that an emphasis on integrity and emotional intelligence portrayed by the leader can lead to improved cognitive functioning, enhanced decision making and quality relationships between organizational members. Hence through a conscious leadership perspective i.e. an individual virtuousness will then expand throughout the organization, creating organization virtuousness. The central meaning of virtuousness is not the same concept of ethics or corporate social responsibility, but is simply an extension. ‘The entire organization is influenced positively when virtuousness is displayed, especially by individuals in leadership positions’ (George 1995, p 130).

Therefore it is evident that different practices of leadership will either adopt practices of virtuality. However it is difficult to manage to effects of the outcome as leaders can have different standards, ‘..,who decides what is good outcome, for whom…’ (Wray-Bliss 2007). Depending on the leaders attitude they may adopt practices depending if there are beneficial profit outcomes or if it creates a positive organizational environment which will increase business benefits in the longer run i.e. managing the business sustainability decisions.

Through studies conducted by Fernando, Dharmage and Almedia we are able to understand the link between decisions made by a leader and how it is influenced to a certain extent by the idea of the ‘trait leadership theory’. However it is evident that ethical values, age, religion and gender to the variations within levels of relativism and idealism i.e. the traits of a leader create different standards of ethical decisions within an organization. Forsyth’s perception on idealism ‘…assume that desirable consequences can, with the right action, always be obtained…’ (Forsyth 1980, p. 176).

Relativism on the other hand is defined by Forsyth as ‘…the extent to which an individual rejects universal moral rules…’ (Forsyth 1980, p. 175). Through Karande et al I was able to observe that ‘…models of ethical decision-making posit that organizational factors, such as an organization’s ethical values influence a manager’s ethical decision-making… (Ferrell and Gresham, 1985 p 3). It is evident that the ‘trait leadership theory’ has an effect on this idea to a certain extent i.e. religion. Through studies conducted it is evident that religion had a high effect on the leaders decisions, which is highlighted through Hunt and Vitell ‘A priori, compared with nonreligious people, one might suspect that the highly religious people would have more clearly defined deontological norms and that such norms would play a stronger role in ethical judgments’’ (Fernando, Dharmage & Almeida 1993, p. 780).

Therefore highlighting the idea that a leader (that has characteristics of the trait theory) with a perspective in religion will have more incorporation of Corporate Ethical Sustainability within the decisions they make in their organization. It is evident that age plays a role in the decisions that leaders make, the older in age the more life experiences which causes moral development. Hall stated that ‘…older the managers tend to be exposed to a variety of ethical problems and become more sensitive to the harm that ethical transgressions can do to the organization and its stakeholders…’ (Hall 1976, p 148). Therefore highlighting that a leader’s age is negatively related to relativism, hence the older a leader is take into consideration universal moral rules. However there are certain aspects such as gender that doesn’t play a major role in ethical decision making, as gender isn’t significantly related to both idealism and relativism. From this study it highlights the importance of leadership’s traits i.e. age, religion when they are making ethical decisions internally and externally of their organization.

Through the study conducted by Cocklin and Stubs it is evident that a conscious leader is able to have an effect and change the organization both internally and externally i.e. understanding the importance of the stakeholders within the organization. The notion that organizations previously focused on profitability i.e. the shareholders importance has decreased to a certain extent in comparison to the stakeholders of the company, hence expressing the power that leadership has in modifying the idea of utilitarianism. It is evident that the conscious leader highlights the importance of the stakeholders, hence ‘…visionary CEOs will push the sustainability agenda throughout organizations and stakeholder networks…sustainability becomes more embedded in the organizational structure and culture…’ (Cocklin & Stubs 2008, p 123).

This highlights the idea that a sustainable business with a humble leader will adopt a stakeholder perspective, emphasising the idea that an organizations success is intimately linked to success of their stakeholders rather than the shareholders. It is evident that companies such as Shell petroleum highlight their importance on their stakeholders, and believe that engaging correct ethical decision making towards stakeholders will be more profitable and responsive in the long run, ‘We remain convinced that engaging with stakeholders and integrating social and environmental considerations better throughout the lifetime of our projects makes us a more responsive, competitive and profitable company, in the long and short term.’(Knights & Wilmott, 2007 p. 4) Through Mackey’s article it highlights the differences between a conscious business and corporate social responsibility. ‘…emphasis on conscious business on higher purpose, stakeholder interdependence, conscious leadership and conscious culture apart from corporate social responsibility…’ (Mackey 2011, p 5).

These differences are driven by a conscious leader which affects the decisions that one may make i.e. they focus on reconciling caring and profitable through higher synergies in comparison to CSR decisions are focused on adding ethical and financial burden to business goals. However through data produced by O’Toole and Vogel it was evident that their there was the idea to treat all stakeholders equally and fairly. This idea is quite uncontrollable and unrealistic hence Mackey stated that it would be impossible for a conscious leader to achieve anything like this. Hence there is the notion that there will be ‘conflicts’ between stakeholders, which may cause unethical decisions made by the management. It is evident that the conscious leader has enhanced the idea of
the stakeholder’s theory which has evolved from the idea of utilitarianism.

It is evident that practices of leadership have an effect in the development and management of ethics and CSR. Through the articles I was able to analyse the effects that CEO’s have on their own organization in decision making, whether variables such as age, religion etc have an influence in the ethical decisions that are made by the leaders. The emphasis of a conscious leadership business portrayed the beneficial longer term benefits for the business when stakeholders are seen as the center rather than shareholders.

Reference List

Cameron, K.S., Bright, D. & Caza, A. 2004, ‘Exploring the relationships between organizational virtuousness and performance’, American Behavioral Scientist, vol. 47, no. 6, pp. 766-90.

Clegg, S.R., Kornberger, M. & Pitsis, T. 2012, Managing and organizations: An introduction to theory and practice, 3rd edn, Sage, London.

Fernando, M., Dharmage, S. & Almeida, S. 2008, ‘Ethical ideologies of senior Australian managers: An empirical study’, Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 82, no. 1, pp. 145P55.

Ferrell, O. C. and L. G. Gresham: 1985, ‘A Contingency Framework for Understanding Ethical Decision Making in Marketing’, Journal of Marketing 49, 87–96.

Fineman, S. (1996). Emotion and organizing. In S. R. Clegg, C. Hardy, & W. R. Nord (Eds.), The handbook of organizational studies (pp. 543-564). London: Sage.

Forsyth, D. R.: 1980, ‘A Taxonomy of Ethical Ideologies’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 39(1), 175–184.

George, J. M. (1995). Leader positive mood and group performance: The case of
customer service. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 25, 778-794.

Hall, E. T.: 1976, Beyond Culture (Anchor Books, Doubleday, Garden City, NY). Knights, D. & Wilmott, H. 2007, Introducing organisational behaviour and management, Thomson, Australia.

Mackey, J. 2011, ‘What conscious capitalism really is, California Management Review, vol. 53, no.3, pp. 83-90.

Stubbs, W. & Cocklin, C. 2008, ‘Conceptualizing a “sustainability business model”’, Organization & Environment, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 103-27.

Wray P Bliss, E. 2007, ‘Ethics in work’, in D. Knights & H. Willmott (eds), Introducing organizational behaviour and management, Thomson Learning, pp. 506-33.

Reflective response:


From the feedback I received I needed to ensure that all my points within my essay correlated and linked from one aspect to anther critiquing what changes had occurred instead of describing the leadership practices. In Assignment 2 I ensured that I only critiqued and I ensured that my main points flowed and related to the question.

Organisation and Structure:

Assignment 1 my flow of my arguments were not effective they jumped from one point to another, hence in the Assignment 2 I ensured that my essay structure related cohesively so one can read and understand the flow and my main points.


I didn’t score very high in this section as I described the practices of leadership in too much detail. In essay 2 I ensured that I didn’t describe the ideas because the reader already understand the practices I had to critique the ideas, and ensure that I did only describe to the very minimum.

Understanding and Content:

I scored quite well; I feel I grasped a pretty good understanding of the lectures and the readings. However for assignment 2 I ensured I used more readings and based my arguments from the readings and lectures that I had analysed.

Academic English:

I made some of my sentences to complicated when they could have been cut down to minimal words. In assignment 2 I ensured that I went straight to the point without any extra words.


I wasn’t very confident on referencing in assignment 1. For assignment 2 I went onto uts library and it showed me how to reference properly for every type of media.

Formatting and presentation:

I didn’t follow all the formatting procedures for essay 1. For assignment 2 I went to the assignment guideline and followed all the steps and even went to the rubric and saw what additional formatting need to take place.

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