How Technology Can Influence Ethical Leadership

In this post I examine what I feel to be an increased possibility for a leader to be unethical when using technology and interacting with virtual subordinates. As we have learned so far in this class, using technology as the primary way to interact with fellow coworkers makes it harder to trust others and feel a close personal connection. In this way, a leader can make decisions that begin to drift away from being ethical and moral as they don’t feel as much weight to their decisions.

The first way a leader would not feel as much consequence for their actions is in what I already alluded to about not feeling close with their subordinates. Since in all likelihood there has not been many in person meetings, a leader may not be as caring or trustworthy (which are 2 of the 6 pillars of character) to their employees as would a leader who is constantly at the same office as the people they lead.

The second way is the technology itself making a leader choose to be unethical. When people are far away, ramifications for decisions can also feel far away due to technology being the only way to communicate with a virtual team. This can result in a leader acting in ways that only interest themselves, since a leader might not feel close to the subordinates they should be trying to help. Using technology can also lead to a lack of respect, as instead of dealing with people face to face, a leader could decide to use email or a messaging service to deliver tough messages to employees.

To help avoid a situation like this, leaders at the company should make sure that people in leadership positions find ways to get closer with the people they lead. If a company has the financial resources, it could be useful to spend money to get everybody in one area a few times a year to build trust and make leaders feel more responsible. Another cheaper method could be utilizing much more meetings that use video chat, while making sure non work talk is set aside for each meeting. These tactics should help leaders and employees trust one another so that when conflicts do arise, people will be more likely to feel like things are fair, they are being treated with respect, and both sides can be honest with one another.