Ethical leadership is a relatively loosely defined philosophy of leadership. To many it is seen to equate to moral leadership, or leading with a sense of great fairness. To others it provides a basis for more detailed explanation and application of; social responsibility, corporate social responsibility (CSR), sustainability, equality, 'Fairtrade', environmental care and humanitarianism.
'Ethical' means different things to different people and, to a great degree, is a changing and fluid notion.
What was ethical a generation ago may not be today. Is Facebook ethical in the way it uses personal details to target advertising at its users? Are governments ethical when they are almost entirely staffed by men? All these are subject to debate. How then can it be possible to form a firm definition of ethical leadership when we don't know exactly what ethical means?
The Centre for Ethical Leadership summarise this well showing the overlap between ethical, authentic and servant leadership; "Ethical leadership is knowing your core values and having the courage to live them in all parts of your life in service of the common good."
Grace, Bill. (1999) Ethical Leadership. Center For Ethical Leadership, 1999. Print.