Surviving trying and tumultuous times demands good leadership.  Clearly, the world is in that state now and leaders are desperately needed to navigate our world’s way to safer shores.  We look to leaders to step up to do their part for the greater good.  We turn to leaders to help us recognize what is most meaningful and inspire us to appropriate action. It is in these times that moral leaders matter most.

An international group of scholars recently examined how moral leaders influence the behavior of their followers. They completed four studies using multiple research methods in both the United States and China.  They found:

  • When ethical leadership was displayed, employees were less likely to engage in deviant behavior.
  • The workplace environment influences employee moral engagement and behavior. It is critical to have the right leadership to encourage appropriate behavior.
  • It is not simply that bad people do bad things. Rather, the organizational environment and the social relationships embedded therein impact peoples’ moral engagement and conduct.

The evidence is clear: moral leaders outperform leaders lacking moral fiber and conviction.  It is the moral leader who shapes our perceptions of justice, trust, engagement, motivation, and going above and beyond in our daily tasks. Moral leaders matter—now more than ever.


Moore, C., Mayer, D. M., Chiang, F. F. T., Crossley, C., Karlesky, M. J., & Birtch, T. A. (2019). Leaders matter morally: The role of ethical leadership in shaping employee moral cognition and misconduct. Journal of Applied Psychology104(1), 123–145.