This paper discusses the ethical leadership and its role in the philanthropic work of the company. The study further highlights the meaning of ethical leadership and its influence on followers and organizations performance. The study states that philanthropic work of companies is not completely social as it excludes the interest of its stakeholders and many companies have different motives like tax rebate, social branding and many others. Moreover, the study also suggests that ethical leadership is not enough for the success of the company but it must be incorporated with ethical leadership characteristics. In addition, the study also reflects the leadership style of Stev jobs and ethical validation of Apple's philanthropic approach
Ethical leadership is a combination of two terms “Ethical” and “Leadership”. Ethical is anything related to moral, social behavioural principles or its associated knowledge and Leadership is a quality and social roles to leads the followers (Western,2019). The ethical leadership is simply a leadership based on ethical beliefs and values that includes trust, honesty, fairness and respect (Bedi et al., 2015). In recent decades, the organizations around the world have actively taken part in philanthropic works and it is considered as an essential duty of an organization. This paper focuses on the dilemma of philanthropic works in the context of ethics and leadership. The paper highlights the causes of philanthropic causes by Apple Inc and its ethical consideration and perspective toward this.
Ethical leadership is the reflection of personal actions and interpersonal relationships in context to normatively appropriate conduct and behaviour. This behaviour influence the followers of the leader to perform the same through two-way communication, reinforcement and decision making (van Gills, 2015). Moreover, It supports the organizational identification that consists strong emotional connection with its internal stakeholders and the morality belief of the organization (Zhu, 2015) and it leads the firm to achieve the expected outcomes (Shin et al. 2015). Philanthropy plays an important role in a leader’s reflection as a moral person, the leader indulged in the philanthropic cause are perceived as inclined to help other and this attitude also promotes the value of benevolence and integrity in the team but the leader needs to draw a moral standard as moral managers (Liu and Baker, 2016). In my opinion, the company has no moral obligation to donate to the external philanthropic cause because the charity and donation do not eliminate the problem but give only a short- term reliefs and the companies already contribute to the society through their innovative and problem-solving product. Similarly, BBC (2014) stated in their report that donation helps in the problem but not in the cause that means it is just a fringe benefit but not the remedial solution. Thus, it is not their moral obligation to donate money to external philanthropic causes. In addition, Bason (2018) has defined that business contributes the innovation to society by their product that is helpful in the development of society. Arguing on ethical ground, I believe that the philanthropic work of company does not reflect the ethical value and ethical behaviour of the company because it mainly depends upon the intention of the company indulging in philanthropic work. Many companies have no true intention for social welfare instead they seek it as an opportunity to portray themselves as a social hero and in some cases to gain tax rebate with other such benefits. Therefore, it should be considered that there may be unveiled motive underneath the mask of their fabricated social contribution. In addition, Gautier and Pache (2015) have described that philanthropic work contributes to the common good in society but all the firms do not donate for this cause. The company that donates varies in amount and their intention because the decision is taken by the actor who is at the top position and they consider it as an opportunity of maximising social welfare, branding, tax saving, marketing and some others. Though some of the decision-makers have a personal will to contribute to the social cause of philanthropic work.
Though Apple has been criticised for their least philanthropic contribution, there is a mixed review of Apple's philanthropic engagement. However, withstanding against the critics Apple has generated revenue of $260.17 billion in 2019 (Statista, 2020). Kuglin, Crosser & Haynes (2017) has described that on May 22, 2011, a large portion of Joplin, Missouri was adversely affected by a tornado in which the only high school of the town got their computer damaged and all of their computers were of Apple's brand but when they approached Apple to help them in replacing the destroyed computers with new Macs, the Apple refused to give any additional aid in this situation. However, In a report of CNBC (2019), Kif Leswing has stated that Tim Cook had donated nearly $5 million of Apple's share to a charity. There are many other examples of Apple's charity and negligence to charity. Thus, in my opinion, they are right in their belief regarding philanthropy as stated in the given case. Considering the ethical value of the justification, their stand prove to be valid because philanthropy in context to corporate is not fully social as it only gives money to the outside recipient as humanitarian work but it does not give any benefit to its employees, supplier and other stakeholders that exclude it from labelling it as social in true meaning (Mihaljovic and Tokic, 2015). Farooq, Roop & Farooq, (2017) have defined that considering the corporate ethics the company should include ethical labour practice, employees’ benefits and welfare in the corporate social responsibility to improve organizational influence and identification. Thus I feel that many philanthropic works of companies seem to be excluding the corporate ethics that considers the interest of employees and shareholders and it is the money of shareholder, they must be informed and agreed prior to any philanthropic donation.
Steve Job has been considered as having a high level of narcissism but he is also known as the leader who is more open to other’s ideas and open to admit his past mistakes. He had always appreciated the talent of employees and executives in his team (Owens, Wallace & Waldman, 2015). He was a visionary leader and passion to create an innovative product but he has expected all his employee to be perfect (Dhiman, 2016). Besides he had the characteristics of transformational leadership, aesthetic leadership, authentic leadership and charismatic leadership (Niebuhr, Vobe and Brem, 2016; Sejits and Gandz, 2018; Watts, 2015; Barnes, 2015). I have heard that steve job was a great critique of his subordinates work but after knowing more about his background, I am convinced to accept that he was a great leader and an entrepreneur who was passionate about innovation.
In conclusion, I would like to say that ethics in any context is considered important and must be incorporated into the activities of a person. Besides, the philanthropic work of the company that includes the activity of donating money in charity to an outside recipient is not the true socialism because it does not benefit stakeholders, thus the interest of employees and shareholder must be taken into consideration. Being an ethical leader is not enough to gain success but it must be accompanied by other leadership characteristics as possessed by Steve Jobs in this case study.
This case study has taught me that ethical leadership is effective in promoting the culture of ethical practice within the organization and influences followers for philanthropic work (Wu et al. 2015), but it must be incorporated with effective leadership qualities. In my leadership development, I will include the traits of visionary, charismatic, authentic and aesthetic leadership infused with ethics to be an effective leader with high moral virtue because the ethical leadership reflects integrity, virtue and authenticity of a leader that helps build trust and earn respect (Lawton & Paez, 2015).
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