Floating Icons on Left Border

Ethical Manipulation in Leadership

  • 30th Jul'21

We are all leaders, either in professional life or personal life. We are leading someone every time we persuade them to take some type of action. As a result, we have a range of appealing leadership strategies to select from, each with different ethical and efficacy consequences.

Today’s world demands our leaders to be both effective and ethical. On the surface, this appears to be a horrible situation. Moreover the pandemic has changed the scenario completely. To get over this, these 6 leadership paradoxes for the post-pandemic era will be very useful. 

But, before we discard the strategy, let's look at three ethical perspectives that might help us understand how to use manipulation effectively and ethically. These can be used a lessons of leadership


Ethical manipulation in Leadership 


  • Virtue Ethics

Aristotle, in his work Eudemian Ethics, decides to look inside a person to find the reason for their actions. If the explanation falls somewhere between excess and insufficiency, the golden mean between two extremes is considered "moral." While influencing a follower is admirable, manipulation has crossed the line into unethical leadership, even if it is intended to encourage a follower to seek the truth. Manipulation is not an option if you want to follow Aristotelian virtue ethics.


  • Deontological Ethics

Immanuel Kant proposed this perspective, which believes that the morality of action may be assessed based on a set of criteria. One such criterion is to treat a follower as a human being rather than an object; to treat him as an end in himself rather than a means to an end. As a result, if the manipulation is for the advantage of the person being manipulated, manipulation is not necessarily harmful.


  • Consequential Ethics

In his book Utilitarianism, John Mill argues that acts are only ethical to the extent that the results promote the greatest benefit for the largest number of people. Consequently, only the outcomes of acts can be used to assess ethical behavior. By that means, a leading strategy like manipulation can be considered ethical if the end result is in the greater good.

We may theoretically argue that ethical manipulation exists if we look at it via two of the three ethical lenses listed above. And, depending on whose philosophy you follow, a leader can morally influence followers to compel action at times.


Shellye is committed to helping people from diverse backgrounds to achieve their aspirations in careers and life. The content published above was made in collaboration with our members.

Shellye Archambeau is determined to help you with all possible strategies to climb the ladder of success. She values your feedback. Do mention them in the comment section below.

Post Your Comment