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ETHICAL LEADERSHIP AND THE POWER OF THE A PRIORI EXPECTATIONS L. HERES
Ethical leadership is intended to foster ethics and prevent integrity violations. As with all leadership, however, it is the perceptions of followers that ultimately determine the eff ectiveness of a moral leader’s eff orts. This mixed-methods study shows how followers vary in their implicit assumptions, ideas, and expectations of ethical leadership. These implicit theories of ethical leadership can in turn shape and bias follower perceptions and interpretations of ethical leadership behavior. Whether a leader is able to obtain and maintain a reputation for ethical leadership thus depends not only on the characteristics and behaviors of the leader itself, but also on the a priori expectations of its followers. These fi ndings may help further improve the eff ectiveness of ethical leadership across different contexts.


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Bij schandalen en schendingen van integriteitsnormen wijst men vaak op tekortkomingen in het moreel leiderschap van organisaties. Leiders zetten immers de toon voor de rest van de medewerkers. Tegelijkertijd hangt de effectiviteit van zulk leiderschap in belangrijke mate af van de percepties die medewerkers hebben van hun leidinggevenden. Leonie Heres onderzocht welke rol impliciete, a priori verwachtingen van medewerkers spelen bij dergelijke percepties en wat dat betekent voor moreel leiderschap op de werkvloer.

Schendingen van integriteitsnormen, zoals fraude, intimidatie en pestgedrag, brengen veel teweeg op de werkvloer. Bovendien kunnen deze schendingen ernstige gevolgen hebben voor de reputatie van een organisatie. Zowel om morele als economische redenen proberen dan ook steeds meer organisaties actief te sturen op integer gedrag. Met behulp van gedragscodes, audits, trainingen en zelfs gespecialiseerde integriteitsbureaus en -functionarissen proberen leidinggevenden hun medewerkers te doordringen van de heersende waarden en normen van de organisatie – bijvoorbeeld waar het gaat om het aannemen van geschenken of declaratiegedrag. Of dergelijke maatregelen daadwerkelijk een positief en duurzaam effect zullen hebben, wordt echter in belangrijke mate bepaald door de vraag of leidinggevenden de maatregelen ook ondersteunen en bekrachtigen met hun eigen voorbeeldgedrag en leiderschap.

De laatste jaren is er veel wetenschappelijk onderzoek gedaan naar de rol van leiderschap in het bevorderen van integriteit in organisaties. Daaruit blijkt dat leiderschap inderdaad een belangrijke rol speelt in de morele oordeelsvorming van medewerkers en dat het ongewenst en onethisch gedrag

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