Virtuousness relates to the aspirations of individuals and organisations when they are at their best. (Cameron, Bright, Caza 2004) This concept is expressed through the study conducted by Cameron, Bright and Caza and it highlights the importance of virtuousness for individual and organisational performance. When virtuous behaviour is displayed by members and supported by organisational systems and processes, desired outcomes are more likely to be achieved. Thus, this demonstrates how leadership practices, decisions and collaboration with employees are pivotal in relation to their ethical decisions. The study highlights how many organisations express different virtuous behaviours and how such attitudes without demonstrated benefits can lead to different actions taken within businesses and potentially negative outcomes. This is demonstrated through Timberland’s CEO, Jeffrey Schwartz, “If we don’t make money, no amount of virtue will do our firm any good. Wall Street will ignore us, and we will soon be out of business. We must have bottom line performance for virtuousness in our firm to be taken seriously.” (Schwartz, 2002) Therefore in the post-bureaucratic era of management, the need for virtuous behaviour has become more apparent through leadership action in order for organisations to be more sustainable. (Cameron, Bright, Caza 2004)
Organisations can face ethically challenging situations which may stem from ethical dilemmas. Such idea is expressed through the study by Fernando, Dharmage and Almeida. Through this study we are also able to identify that ethical decisions made by a leader can be influenced by factors such as religion and age. It is noted that Donelson R. Forsyth was able to identify ethical ideologies through idealism and relativism. (Forsyth 1980) He defines idealism as “the degree to which individuals assume that desirable consequences can, with the right action, always be obtained.” Furthermore, he expresses that idealistic individuals believe that harming others can be avoidable thus, such leaders would influence their ethical decisions for their organisation. (Forsyth 1992, p.462)
In contrast to this, relativism is defined as “the extent to which an individual rejects universal moral rules” (Forsyth 1980) Furthermore, these individuals ”generally feel that moral actions depend upon the nature of the situation and the individuals involved, and when judging others they weigh the circumstances more than the ethical principle that was violated.” (Forsyth 1992, p462) Throughout the study it was evident that factors such as religion had an effect on leader’s decisions. This was seen through Hunt and Vitell as they expressed that those with a strong religious belief may have more clearly defined deontological norms which heavily contribute to their ethical judgements. This highlights that leaders with a religious perspective will have more incorporation of Corporate Ethical Sustainability within their organisational decisions. Additionally, age also plays a role in leaders decisions as it is believed that the older a person is, the more life experience they have had which leads to moral development and a better understanding of ethical issues.
In today’s post-bureaucratic managerial society, the desire for sustainability by consumers holds significant importance. Wray- Bliss explains the modern shift towards self-management and self-reliance of employees and organisations and how business leaders should self-regulate. This concept involves leaders being given the ability to manage their business without the tight regulation from all levels of government. Thus, allowing leaders to identify their own social responsibilities and ethical values. It is believed that most large companies today promote themselves as socially responsible however it is questioned that not all claims are legitimate. For example, a company may claim they are socially responsible despite polluting the earth during the production of their products. Thus, it is important that business leaders are seen to be ethical in order for higher organisational gains. (Wray-Bliss 2007)