Building ethical leadership through training and development approach at a higher education institution in South Africa


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The research has shown that many leaders lack ethical practice, but training and development geared towards ethical leadership can serve to bridge this gap in theory and practice. This paper focuses primarily on the key aspect of training and development to promote more ethical leadership within a higher education institution setting. The data were drawn from a mixed-method study adopting both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Simple random sampling constituted a sample of 312 academic and administrative staff members at the institution. The purposeful sampling for the qualitative component was a realized sample of 3 executive management leadership and 9 line management leadership participants, indicating a total response rate of 67%. The results for executive management leadership reflect poor leadership style from the employees’ perspective in relation to respect and fairness, transparency, behavior, and other ethical leadership-related items (of M = 2.74, SD = 0.033). In addition, there was a clear need for leadership to attend ongoing training courses (M = 4.20, SD = 0.904). From the qualitative perspective, more than 50% of the leadership respondents indicated no appropriate university leadership programmes or ethical leadership programs. Therefore, the investment in training and development can promote more ethical leadership style, which in turn can have a positive impact on employees (M = 4.43, SD = 0.740). In light of this, the results provide a strong inclination towards more training and development programs to ensure that leaders develop ethical considerations in their role as leaders.

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    • Figure 1. Age category of leadership
    • Table 1. EML items
    • Table 2. One-sample test and one-sample statistics for three statements