There are innumerable issues and challenges that confront the leaders of today, each of which is engrossing and highly intimidating. Empowerment of work forces, cultural and ethnic diversity, demands of the labor unions are some but of all these issues the most pressing one is the integrity of the leaders in command. Corporate ethics and their violation have long made headlines of the newspapers across the world triggered by the breakdown of Enron. The top league involved in some of these scandalous companies have often come under public scrutiny over advancing their interests at the expense of the stake holders. It remains to be seen precisely where things went wrong? Has the pressure to hit the bottom line and achieve high shares in the market taken over to the extent of flagrant violation of ethics? Who is the culprit? What lessons have been learned from the various scandals and what must be done to avoid any more ethical catastrophes in near future? These are some questions which need to be addressed if the integrity of the leaders has to be restored (George, 2005).
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Numerous leadership theories and various business scholars have emphasized on the importance integrity for the success of an organization. Maxwell cited that integrity as the most essential component of leadership. Goleman pointed out that Integrity zeroes down on only one question: that is seeking to know if what one does correlates with his values or not. Covey on the other hand calls integrity as “one of the seven chronic problems” the corporate world of today faces (Covey, 1990). Good character and attributes has a direct impact on productivity and integrity likewise cultivates trust cum confidence in oneself. It instills in one the self-conscience that would direct an individual to do his utmost for the success of his company. On the contrary, absence or lack thereof could do serious damage to company’s reputation, employee morale, the organizational structure and customer confidence (Maxwell, 1993) (Goleman, 2002).
In a poll conducted by USA Today/CNN it was discovered that 70 percent of the pollees exercised little or no interest in the CEOs of their companies and would not be surprised if they discover them involved in illegal activities while subduing the rights of the stake holders.( cited in Hernez-Broome, Steed and Lundberg, 2004). The general public is of the view that their leaders will easily fall prey to the temptations of personal greed. Stake holder rights with respect to integrity and morality would stand meaningless for them. Similarly the urge to move up the corporate leader for monetary and other rewards may cause one to compromise his character and integrity for more material gains. Some stereotype notions such as the belief that a person is determined by what he was during his youth so why bother changing? Have severely tarnished trust and confidence in the institution of leadership – an issue which needs to be addressed the earlier the better (Goleman, 2002).
One major solution for this problem could a more pro-active approach by high level schools in this regard. More courses should be dedicated to explain the students the importance of abiding by business ethics, values and integrity. Within the premises of an organization and its business infrastructure it is mandatory to establish a guideline governing its ethics be, if integrity has to be inculcated. Also it must be ensured that the top league abides by the guideline for commitment finds its way from the top brass only (Alexander, 2003).