Socw 6070 week 6 discussion 2 | SOCW 6070 – Supervision, Leadership, and Administration in Social Work Organizations | Walden University


Read a selection of your colleagues’ posts.

Respond to the colleagues in at least one of the following ways:

  • Provide an example of an individual who exhibited an ethical leadership characteristic your colleague has described.
  • Provide an example of a leader who effectively faced one of the challenges to ethical leadership that your colleague has described.

Colleague #1 (Well Maybe)

Define ethical leadership as it relates to the social work profession.

Under the social work profession, ethical leadership is that in which the leader of any organization helps people understand their surrounding through exercising moral imagination (Northouse, 2021). As Northouse (2021) explains, moral imagination requires the person in charge to act on behave of a group to produce results that serve others as opposed to self. Therefore, an ethical leader should be characterized by selflessness.

Explain what it means to be an ethical leader and describe the challenges of being an ethical leader.

An ethical leader is a leader who operates under principles such as respect, service, justice, honesty, and community (Northhouse, 2013). The principle of respect requires leaders to treat their juniors as ends in themselves and not as means to ends. Human resources have their own autonomous goals and any leader who claims to be an ethical leader should respect such a feature. The principle of serve guide leaders is to apply the servant leadership approach in leading the rest. The principle of justice demands that the overall leader should encourage fairness among his followers. The principle of honesty requires that a leader operates openly and represents reality at all times. The principle of community guide leaders is to influence others to work towards a common goal. Any leader who applies all these principles in his/her role as a leader qualifies to be described as an ethical leader (Northhouse, 2013).

Ethical leaders face various challenges in their effort to execute their duties. For Instance, when resources are limited the leading figure will have challenges achieving fairness in distribution resources in the organization (Northhouse, 2013). When one principle of ethical leadership is interfered with then the rest are compromised hence challenging ethical leadership as a whole.


Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and Practice (6th ed.) Chapter 16, “Leadership Ethics” (pp. 423-449). Washington, DC. Sage.

Northouse, P. G. (2021). Introduction to Leadership: Concepts and Practice (5th ed.) Chapter12, “Addressing Ethics in Leadership” (pp 308-335). Washington, DC. Sage.

Colleague #2 (Vic Cuntal)

Ethical leadership as it relates to the social work profession

Ethical leadership is guiding/leading others based on morals and values towards protecting one’s subordinates and everyone’s dignity and rights. Ethics guides ethical leadership. Social work practice involves enhancing people’s well-being and empowering oppressed and vulnerable people (Northouse, 2021). As such, social worker’s role makes it crucial that they utilize ethical leadership to enhance the good of the power through the power they possess as leaders. 

In social practice, ethical leadership is demonstrated by doing the morally right actions while bringing social justice to show people’s worth, whether the vulnerable or those working under them. It is delivered through using their power for the social good displaying integrity and competence. Ethical leaders demonstrate good morals and values in their practice and do not ignore any wrongdoings, even when it benefits their business. Integrity is at the core of their actions (Engelbrecht, Heine & Mahembe, 2017). Ethical leadership for social workers ensures they practice their values without compromise. In cases where there is conflict in ethics leading to moral dilemmas, they rank them in order of importance to ensure they make just decisions.

While ethical leadership presents many benefits, there are various challenges involved. These include ethical dilemmas and conflicts (Ostwal, 2017). Disputes can be from the self-doubt of one’s evaluation process during an ethical dilemma or conflicts of interest. However, as a social work profession leader, one has to balance professional and personal ethics. This involves following the set codes of ethics for social work and utilizing the leadership position’s power to influence and enhance ethical standards based on service, dignity, competence, and value for human relationships. Ethical leadership involves value and morals; thus, and social work administrators should reflect ethical leadership. 


Engelbrecht, A. S., Heine, G., & Mahembe, B. (2017). Integrity, ethical leadership, trust, and work engagement. Leadership & Organization Development Journal.

Northouse, P. G. (2021). Introduction to leadership: Concepts and practice (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Sage.

Ostwal, P. (2017). Major Challenges of Ethical Leadership. Asian Journal of Management, 8(2), 181-186.