Is ethical leadership under threat from populism?

Ethical leadership, trust and equality are seen as important qualities for successful organisations. But many would argue populism entails a style of leadership totally at odds with modern HR thinking. Adam McCulloch examines how employees are affected by the contrast between national and company leadership.

Contemporary business practice emphasises the rational and the compliant. The long-term interests of organisations are seen as best-served if leaders and employees behave ethically with diverse boardrooms that can avoid the pitfalls of “groupthink”.

In no previous era has more value been placed on equality, inclusion, fairness and transparency; we now have gender pay gap reporting, may soon have ethnicity pay gap reporting and the advent of unconscious bias training has spawned myriad consultancies led by psychologists whose names are followed by a string of letters.

Yet paradoxically society appears more divided than ever and, strikingly, we are electing and rewarding “populists”; leaders who express views that condemn and offend large groups of people and/or make whimsical decisions based on short-term interests rather than for the long-term common good. Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson has each been accused of racism, self-interested behaviour and mendacity in recent times.

Read the full article on Personal Today.

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