Personality Predictors Of Transparency And Accountability In Leaders

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Accountability is very important for supporting ethical leadership in today’s global economy (Beu 2000; Lagan & Moran, 2006; Sikka, 2017) and is one of the central constructs to protect business and organizational ethics. Leaders with accountability provide attention to the development of ethical perspectives within organizational components. Leaders need to make ethically accountable decisions in rapidly changing business environments (Steinbauer et al., 2014; Sims & Felton, 2006) and within these spheres, they face decisions and implement actions to create an ethical environment and promote a community’s interests.

Accountability has the potential to sustain ethical and personal development. Lerner and Tetlock (1999) concluded that when an individual becomes aware of the accountability condition, the specific coping strategy relevant to the condition is embraced. An individual who is held accountable is likely to be aware of the accountability requirements in order to be compatible with the expectations of the accountable. Thus, the individuals are likely to behave in an acceptable manner. Lerner and Tetlock also added that self-criticism and effortful thinking (i.e., self-accountability) will be selected most often when individuals are aware of the accountability conditions. The individuals are likely to engage in a wide assessment of their behaviors and judgments.

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Paolini, Crisp, and McLntyre (2009) found that when individuals were notified that they would be held accountable for their decisions regarding stereotype change and generalizations, both information processing and judgment vigilance increased. Accountability helps organizations to implement ethical behavior in order to cope with the increasing demand for transparency and ethical performance measurement (Gilbert & Rasche, 2007).

Accountability holds organizational leaders directly responsible to their public in order to enable those leaders to be in line with the social and organizational requirements Figure 1: Conceptual Model of Study 5 (Schatz, 2013). Cox (2010) considered that accountability for the management of healthcare strengthens the opportunities of accepting responsibility for a patient’s care by encouraging nurses and other medical professionals to acquire knowledge, skills and experience that allow them to perform the task or role required of them while respecting the requisite legal and social standards. For example, medical professionals are accountable for their professional actions and accountability acts as an external control that judges their actions. However, in their qualitative study, Mansouri and Rowney (2014) found that accountability for professionals goes beyond fear of external control and material incentives; it refers to the sense of self-accountability, and concern for the public interest and ethical behavior. Therefore, accountability encourages ethical leadership behavior within organizations where the leaders need to be fair and principled decision-makers and also behave ethically in their personal and professional lives (e.g., Brown & Treviño, 2006).

Self-accountability and ethical leadership. The concept of self-accountability is seen as internal motivators such as personal qualities and ethics. These motivators provide inner principles and goals set by individuals (Dhima et al., 2018; Schlenker & Weigold, 1989). From the perspective of ethical leadership, self-accountability occurs when an ethical leader is accountable to himself/herself when there is no one else to observe, monitor, or hold him/her responsible. When a leader has a well-developed sense of self-accountability, the leader has the ability to hold himself/herself accountable for his/her behavior in order to increase self-observing of their behavior (Lerner & Tetlock, 1999). Frink and Klimoski (1998) suggest a possible relationship between self-accountability and ethical guidance since self-accountability includes personal (i.e., leader’s) ethics and values, goals, and obligations. This aligns with values-based leadership since shared values helps promote goal obtainment. With respect to social exchange theory, leaders influence others based on the reciprocal relationship of obligation.

Accordingly, the subordinates feel obligated to return beneficial behaviors when they believe that their leaders have been good and fair to them. Therefore, when the self-accountability of leaders is high, the subordinates will be more likely to practice ethical behaviors (e.g., Peloza, White, & Shang, 2013; Wachter, 2013). Self-accountability can also serve as the driver for ensuring justice and fairness within the organizational boundaries (Hunt, 2007) and through self-awareness, helps leaders better understand what their behaviors may elicit (e.g., Hollander, 2013; Musah, 2011). Self-accountability comprises aspects of integrity and honesty (Artley, 2001) that help regulate ethical behavior. There is a possible relationship between self-accountability and people orientation.

People orientation is based on how leaders affect organizational processes through caring for others, empowering others, and developing others (Page & Wong, 2000). Caring for subordinates is one of the outcomes of accountability (Kalshoven et al., 2011; Lagan & Moran, 2006). Self-accountability might also enhance a power-sharing approach between leaders and their subordinates since the nature of self-accountability strengthens a bond of trust and cooperation between leaders and subordinates. According to Mordhah (2012), self-accountability helps leaders avoid oppression and empower their subordinates by allowing them to participate in decision-making. As a leader is accountable to himself/herself, the leader is able to develop a sense of self-observation for their behavior (Lerner & Tetlock, 1999). This sense enables the leader to be transparent and to engage in open communication with subordinates in order to explain what is expected of them and clarify role expectations.


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