Leadership and the consequences of morality

Katie McQuade*, Christian Harrison, Heather Tarbert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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This paper provides an extensive overview of the evolution of leadership throughout the twenty first century. This is conducted in juxtaposition with developments in societal morality. The aim of this paper is to highlight the impact societal morality has had on shaping leadership theories, whilst simultaneously exploring the relationship between the two phenomena. This paper adopts a theoretical approach, considering leadership from the approach of societal relativist morality. It posits that morality is concerned with society as a whole, and that it is constantly evolving. This philosophy is then applied to the development of leadership. This paper finds that morality has been highly influential with regards to the evolution of leadership theory. It has impacted upon our changing interpretation of leadership over time. The paper additionally proposes that servant leadership is the most moral approach a leader may adopt and recommends potential areas for future research. There is currently no study which exists concerning the impact of morality on the development of leadership, hence the original contribution of this paper. Its value exists in its ability to determine the moral attributes of different approaches to leadership. It allows for an overall deeper understanding of the moral approaches to leadership.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2021
EventBritish Academy of Management Conference 2021 - Online
Duration: 31 Aug 20213 Sept 2021


ConferenceBritish Academy of Management Conference 2021
Abbreviated titleBAM2021
Internet address


  • leadership
  • morality
  • moral
  • leaders
  • servant leadership
  • servant
  • serving
  • moral relativism
  • societal morality


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