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“Morality” and “Ethics” although used interchangeably, “Morality” generally refers to conduct itself, whereas “ethics” refers to the study of moral conduct. The essence of this discourse has transcended time and it has been an important discussion in academia, professional life and national development.
Although it has been an ancient topic of review yet its essence has not been left in antiquity, so we reflect on some perspectives on morality and ethics as it concerns leadership and national development today. Ethical standards are principles by which society and individuals judge whether a moral action is right or wrong; they may include statute law, religious authority, public opinion, and conscience.
The quest to just want to do the right thing, is somewhat the desire of the ethical but this desire has really been question by relativity. The main question has been, what is right? It is not my intent to try to answer this question of what right is in this blog although this forms the backbone of the whole discussion but I intend to relate to ethics as it may be to leadership and African development.
A leader is essentially one who is called into influence and thus achieves a greater good through people. The objective of leadership which is to make the world a little much better is defined by ethics. Brilliance, innovation, problem-solution skills, strategic thinking, may all be good traits of a star lead but these qualities does not guarantee anybody a space in leadership until he/she can inspire and motivate, build relationships or communicate powerfully. But the ability to inspire others is purely based on their judgement of how right or wrong they think these qualities you posses translate into their good.
People want to know if leaders act in their best ethical interest, then such leaders win their commitment for a greater cause. This is a key reason why everybody who pursue leadership genuinely should master him/her self. Morality becomes the only reason why a leader will genuinely seek the best interest of a person he/she may never know and might never need their help. Ethics becomes the why for wanting the world a much better place and not for the goodies.
But unfortunately, our part of the world is filled with leaders who pursue a sense of greater good because of their own selfish greed. I have heard and seen in my short life experience some African leaders made themselves rich at the expense of the people they claim to seek their good.
When a public servant fails to work, when a corrupt government minister misappropriates funds, when a cooperate executive cheats the people for gains, when the industry man kills the people for his profit, when the young man robs the innocent for riches, when the young lady engages in prostitution for promotion and employment, and when the pastor collects the people’s money for personal luxury then these are certainly not technical problems neither is it a problem of lack of interpersonal skills. It may not even necessarily be one of self-mastery but then it is purely an issue of ethics and morality.
These problems has made me ask time and over again, what forms the ethical strength of a leader? Among the basis do I find:
- A knowledge of God: Without a sense of a supernatural, all perfect being to whom every individual is accountable, ethics never holds to impress anybody. It is by this same knowledge of God that one tells, his/her neighbor is in God’s image and deserves a godly treat. The fear of the Lord has become the basis for most ethical and moral conducts over time.
- A strong virtue base: Leaders have a passion and a commitment for what is virtuous. Leaders with sound ethical strongholds have a passion and commitment for values like, honesty, justice, Beneficence, Non-maleficence and respect. Their value system become the basis on which they make decision and treat themselves and people around them.
- Principles of Collaboration: When exploitation becomes the leading word for people and their pursuits are fueled by greed, all they will seek to do is to rip people for selfish gains. Leaders have a genuine desire to see others better and thus collaborate on the basis of people’s strength for a cause. They work with people and not people working for them. They respect peoples’ value and do not cheat or disrespect them.
In conclusion, let me invite you to imagine a world where people desire and do what is ethical. Welcome to a world where people fear and live for God. To a world where people value what is virtuous and pursue principle that are collaborative.We have a sense of accountability to a perfect God in whose nature we are.
Let us desire and form our society from such pure desire to shine as light and preserve as salts, for that is right and ethical and I guarantee, it will solve majority of our problem as a people if not all.