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Leadership Ethics

The Jepson approach to leadership ethics rests on the assumption that leadership is a subset of ethics rather than the other way around. This assumption derives from understanding the leader-follower relationship as a moral relationship.

Leadership Ethics is the capstone course for Jepson students. Students study prominent ethical theories and analyze ethical problems from a broadened moral perspective. They learn how to critique moral arguments and how to present moral arguments of their own. 

The Jepson faculty takes a thorough, wide-ranging approach in teaching Leadership Ethics. Professors aim to expand students' moral point of view by considering personal ethics, leadership and the common good, and ethics in a global community. 

This is an applied ethics course. In discussing and writing about case studies, students use philosophic conceptions of ethics to gain insights into the moral problems of real leaders. In addition to their classroom experiences, students often have opportunities to hear world-class speakers and take part in conferences and  events that focus on leadership ethics.

In the Leadership Ethics capstone course, students will explore these sorts of questions:

  • How do the moral beliefs, commitments, and behaviors of individual leaders and followers relate to the moral ethos and actions of groups and/or societies?
  • Does the leader help shape a moral environment, and if so, how?
  • What role do individual leaders play in influencing the social or political balancing of competing ethical values?
  • How do the new cultural and economic realities, challenges, and opportunities of a globalizing world affect how we view our personal and social obligations and our identity(ies)?
  • What role do personal attributes play in the shaping of one's morality?
  • Do persons from privileged groups have more ability to shape social morality, and if this is the case, to what extent is the guise of morality employed to uphold social hierarchies?
  • What is it about power and success that creates ethical challenges for leaders?
  • To what extent is the greatest good part of a leader's job description? What price are we willing to pay for the greatest happiness?
  • Are all human actions self-interested? Is it immoral to be self-interested? Does an action have to altruistic to be moral? Is it necessary for leaders to be altruistic?
  • What reasons might leaders use to justify their behavior if they break rules that apply more generally to others?