Case studies illuminate ethical principles and lapses in events surrounding Enron, WorldCom, the World Trade Organization (WTO), Arthur Andersen, sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy, the Air Force Academy, and NASA among others. The cinema also provides a fertile area to tap by way of example, and Johnson mines films such as 'The Insider, The Gathering Storm, Dead Man Walking, The Pianist' and 'Erin Brockovich 'to dramatise salient points. The variety of such broadly chosen examples, derived from current events, should help to make ethics come alive for students in ways that demonstrate the every day importance of ethical leadership.
The text is organised into four parts. Part One, ‘The shadow side of leadership’, relies on the Jungian construct of the shadow side of the personality, following the maxim, ‘the brighter the light, the larger the shadow’. Johnson believes that an effective way for leaders to understand how the shadow side might influence their behaviour is to acknowledge existence of shadows forthrightly. Typical shadows cast by leaders include: the abuse of power and privilege; deception; misplaced and broken loyalties; inconsistency and irresponsibility. Any reader with leadership responsibility or even enmeshed in a complex organisation may not be able to resist the temptation to begin self-analysis and organisational scrutiny immediately.
Part Two, ‘Looking inward’, the most appealing section for this reviewer, examines why it is that leaders often do more harm than good. The author proffers a variety of views on evil, both personal and systemic, and appeals to a model of forgiveness as a way to break the cycle of institutionalised evil. In response to the many patterns of evil easily discernible in the world, Johnson counsels spirituality and reflection, affirming the value of spiritual disciplines that most readers will find have some resonance with several religious traditions. The interdisciplinary approach here is appealing. Students from a variety of academic backgrounds will find something here that invites further reflection.
Part Three, ‘Ethical standards and strategies’, summarises and reviews selections from the knowledge base in ethical theory. Kant, Rawls and Mill are introduced. Discussion of James McGregor Burns, Rost and Greenleaf come in the chapter entitled ‘Normative leadership theories’. This section is unsatisfying in its quick treatment of major ethical treatises. Indeed, the introduction, analysis, comparison and critique of Kant’s categorical imperative are handled in less than two pages and several hundred words. Utilitarianism receives similar treatment. This material might suffice for an introductory course at an early, undergraduate level, but advanced undergraduates and graduate students will arguably require more detail, information and nuance.
Part Four, ‘Shaping ethical contexts’, concludes the text with a focus on group dynamics and building an ethical capacity in small groups. The ethical challenges inherent in cultural diversity round out the text, along with an admonition to be wary of ethnocentrism and prejudice.
As a classroom text for undergraduate courses in leadership and ethics, it is difficult to find a more comprehensive book that provides both the theoretical background and practical application of ethical theory in one place. Even with the caveat that some Book reviews 127 students will need a stronger intellectual framework, this is a valuable book. Instructors will find the text versatile in this regard, as its organisation allows for either a linear approach from beginning to end or a more creative, theme-based approach. A highly structured table of contents and a detailed subject/author index serve such an end well. A significant contribution to the pedagogy of ethics, this book should continue to enjoy wide usage and popularity." (Dr Ronald J. Nuzzi Journal of Moral Education 2006-01-09)
About the Author
Craig E. Johnson (PhD, University of Denver) is a professor of Leadership Studies and former director of the Doctor of Business Administration program at George Fox University, Newberg, Oregon. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in leadership, ethics, and management and supervises doctoral dissertations. Previously he served as chair of the university’s Department of Communication Arts. Johnson is the author of Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership: Casting Light or Shadow (also published by SAGE) and coauthor, with Michael Z. Hackman, of Leadership: A Communication Perspective. He has published research findings, instructional ideas, and book reviews in The Journal of Leadership Studies, The Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, The Journal of Leadership Education, Academy of Management Learning and Education, The International Leadership Journal, Communication Quarterly, Communication Reports and other journals. Johnson has led and participated in service and educational trips to Kenya, Rwanda, New Zealand, China, Brazil, and Honduras.