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Company Zappos

Essay by   •  June 8, 2011  •  Case Study  •  6,061 Words (25 Pages)  •  1,760 Views

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Executive Summary

This report will discuss the importance of the term ethical leadership and its focus between a well ran company, Zappos. This report will first introduce a series of several ways in which the term "ethical leadership" can be define by providing 5 separate theories of the term itself, which will be introduced into the next section. Following a well-rounded idea of the term "ethical leadership" through a series of theories on the topic, it will then be intertwined with the company of Zappos and how it relates to the company itself.

Along with an in depth procedure in looking into the company itself and how it focuses on ethical leadership, this report will also analyze much of what the company does as well as its primary focus with its employees and customers and how it all came to be. Also new ways to be introduced on ideas to improve situations within the company for optimum results, but these will be provided in a later section.

Theoretical Background

In order to take an in depth look at what the company of Zappos and what it focuses most on it is most important to take a look behind the scenes at what "ethical leadership" really is. Ethical leadership can make or break companies in many situations if not done correctly because it is a primary focus to providing employee happiness, which results in a healthier environment for customers, thus leading to gains in profit for a company. By taking a glance at this term, let's focus on several theories in which it can better be described.

The first theory that will be introduced is by the two authors, Shamas-ur-Rehman Tour and George Ofari in which they title their idea "Ethical Leadership: Examining the Relationships with Full Range Leadership Model, Employee Outcomes, and Organizational Culture".

The authors of this article start off by talking about the importance of ethical leadership stemming all the way back to ancient civilizations. They refer back to research done by Trevino and Brown, which says that some people have always been unethical, but that people now are not any less ethical than they were back in those ancient civilizations. Despite our desire to research and develop ways to improve leadership, there is little empirical evidence supporting these ideas.

A reference to Aristotle is also mentioned, where he basically says that leadership is not just knowledge, but the ability to apply everything one knows based on the situation presented. An ethical leader is said to perform in ways that show a concern for others, and do not harm others. They say that ethical leaders show fairness and other altruistic traits in their everyday lives.

Although ethical leadership is based on different traits and behaviors, it is also based on the way they hold others accountable for the ethics they demonstrate. They do not use their own power against others in a negative way, but rather use it to influence others to behave the ways they do. Like others, the authors explain the relationship between ethical leadership and positive employee outcomes.

They also refer to the study talked about in Trevino and Brown's journal article and how employee satisfaction is the sign of an ethical leader. Those ethical leaders are also constantly guiding their followers to follow in their footsteps of becoming leaders, and with positive encouragement and fair treatment. From the study, it was also found that ethical leadership is negatively associated with the laissez-faire style of leadership. Ethical leaders promote a comforting environment for their followers, and reward them for making ethical decisions. Although these individuals place an interesting input on this idea stemming back from ancient civilization and its relation to that, let's take a look at another view on this broad term done on an analysis of ancient times by Joanne Ciulla titled "Leadership and Ethics of Care".

The article starts off by talking about the job of a leader and states that it includes caring for others, or taking responsibility for them. Corporate leaders all have the decision to make the caring decision or the most efficient decision. This piece focuses on the requirement that leaders be present to care for their followers in times of crisis.

Furthermore, the article goes on to talk about an ancient story of the Emperor or Rome playing his fiddle while Rome burns. The moral of the story tells us that the leader's job is to be in the right place and paying attention to the right things and to not turn their back on any issues or wrongdoings. The story is also used to critique unethical leaders since they turn their attention to something else and avoid the problems at hand or try to cover up their bad decisions. Since most unethical leaders chose to make a decisions and ignore the consequences the idea of caring would keep them involve in the decision making process and be responsible for their actions and take on any possible consequences.

The rest of the article deals mainly with the idea of caring for others and that this care will help prevent making unethical and unwise decisions. The author says that the leader can still be a good leader and be efficient while still caring and making the right decisions. The author also defines what a leader is and compares it to a professional in order to draw the conclusion that a leader is there to serve the interests of others in an unselfish fashion. Let's take a more modern view now on the idea of ethical leadership.

Authors M.E. Brown and M.S. Mitchell write in their article "Ethical and Unethical Leadership: Exploring New Avenues for Future Research" on how it not only focuses on ethical leadership, but also unethical leadership as well. They talk about what ethical leadership is, what traits make up an ethical leader, and the influence of an ethical leader on the workplace. Ethical leaders are described as not only leaders who behave ethically for their own good, but also a support center for those who work for them. They are the people that help others when problems arise, and make judgments that positively affect the business and all of its parts. Ethical leaders use the tools around them to make all of the parts of the business work, and rely on the advice and recommendations of others to make things work for everyone. They must be both moral and strong, being able to face problems with potential conflict, and make decisions that are in the best interest of all. Their part is to make these decisions, and teach others to do the same, and possibly receive promotions themselves in the future. They explain that ethical leaders



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