The Moral Foundation of Extra-Ordinary Leadership

13 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2008

See all articles by James G. Clawson

James G. Clawson

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

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This simple self-assessment instrument helps individuals and teams assess their behavior on four dimensions of moral leadership: truth-telling, promise-keeping, fairness, and respect for the individual. The instrument may be used with groups from companies, with learning teams, with individuals, or as a tool for practicing managers to distribute to their team members. Summary statistics of the four measures can help leaders assess the moral foundation of their leadership and whether their traditional leadership techniques are likely to have any effect.




What you do thunders so loudly in my ears, I cannot hear what you say.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

All leadership has a moral dimension, and this is a Level Three consideration. Since leadership is about influencing others, it begs the questions of whether or not it is right to do so and what means one should employ. Some people feel very strongly that they have no right or desire to influence others and prefer that others be left alone to determine the path of their lives without external pressures. In an increasingly crowded, and electronically, economically, and environmentally connected, and potentially hostile world, the freedom to determine one's own life path is becoming increasingly difficult. Decisions made by strangers minutes, miles, or continents away affect our daily lives in many ways. Yet there is this dilemma that within our sphere of contacts and acquaintances, we choose whether or not to try to get others to change the way they behave, and if you accept the premise of the previous chapter, think and believe.

Morality, Ethics, and Legality

. . .

Keywords: leadership

Suggested Citation

Clawson, James G., The Moral Foundation of Extra-Ordinary Leadership. Darden Case No. UVA-OB-0734, Available at SSRN:

James G. Clawson (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States


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