Ethics and Leadership


The purpose of this assignment is to apply ethical principles to current leadership practices within healthcare by a) explaining two ethical principles, b) applying selected ethical principles to lead

  1. In this 3-5 page paper (not including the title or reference pages in the page count), the introduction contains a few statements about ethical principles in general, identification of two ethical principles  to be used in this paper, and the sections of the paper. 
  1. Section One provides a definition and explanation of two ethical principles. Each of the selected ethical principles are then applied to leadership within any healthcare setting. Scholarly support is provided for the definitions, explanations, and application areas.

  2. Section Two presents information on how the selected ethical principles either prevents or solves two different leadership concerns within healthcare. Scholarly support is required

  3. Section Three identifies how you will incorporate each of the selected ethical principles into your own leadership activities within healthcare.

  4. Summary of this paper identifies key points from the presentation as well as of insights gained (what was learned) about applying ethical principles with leadership through writing the paper.

Sample paper

Ethics and Leadership

Ethics refer to moral principles or rules that govern behavior of an individual or group. Ethics identify the kinds of actions, motives or intentions that are valued by the community and those abhorred. In simple terms, ethics helps in describing behaviors as either wrong or right. Ethics have a significant impact on leadership. Ethical principles are the fundamental guidelines that enable leaders to make informed choices. Often, leaders face moral dilemmas that test their decision-making skills. Various ethical dilemmas present challenges in the healthcare field. This study examines the ethical principles of autonomy and beneficence with regard to the health care field. The study comprises of three sections. Section 1 examines the selected ethical principles in general. Section 2 evaluates the efficacy of the two ethical principles in solving two leadership concerns in the healthcare sector. Section 3 examines how an individual can incorporate the ethical principles in own leadership activities.

The principle of autonomy gives individuals the right to make their own decisions. This means that patients have the right to make decisions concerning what they perceive as the best for them (Pozgar, 2005). Nonetheless, this principle does not give individuals the free will to make decisions that may have an impact on another individual. Since the principle of autonomy gives individuals the right to make decision concerning health care, this means that one can choose not to receive some form of treatment, regardless of whether it is beneficial to him or her. In a leadership situation, it is critical that managers respect the autonomy of the patient while making certain decisions. For instance, surgeons should not perform a medical procedure without consent from the patient, or an agent representing the patient in case the patient is unable to make decisions. In addition, a physician must inform the patient of the risks associated with the procedure.

The second principle is beneficence. This principle advocates for doing good, showing compassion, kindness, and the general will to help others (Pozgar, 2005). The principle of beneficence applies in the healthcare field by requiring practitioners to weigh benefits of medical procedures vis-a-vis the risks involved. In doing good, the principle mandates healthcare practitioners to develop a detailed understanding of the patient in order to best serve his or her needs. For instance, practitioner should develop an understanding of the patient’s background, preferences, cultures, beliefs, and values. These are important in providing all round care. For instance, the patient may prefer knowing little information about a severe condition that he/she is suffering from. With regard to leadership, this principle stipulates that decisions made in healthcare settings benefit patients. Caregivers must act with kindness and love while helping patients.

The principle of autonomy solves the leadership concern of harm to patients. Certain medical procedures or treatment may leave the patient with life changing consequences. As a result, the patient may lose the quality of his/her life (Pozgar, 2005). The principle of autonomy gives patient the right to choose whether to accept such procedures. As such, the patient must authorize any treatments or procedures that alter his/her normal functioning. Another leadership concern addressed by the principle of autonomy is the need for personal freedom and the right to make decisions over one’s body. The U.S. Constitution grants every individual certain liberties or freedoms, among the bodily integrity. This means that individuals have personal autonomy over their own bodies. The principle of autonomy helps the leadership in enforcing this fundamental freedom among patients. This is of critical significance in healthcare settings since it establishes limits to what physicians can do to patients without their consent.

Beneficence relates to the leadership concern of the moral obligation among caregivers to help others by taking direct and positive steps. This principle requires caregivers to avoid not only causing harm to patients, but also to take active measures to help them. The principle requires caregivers to conduct beneficence acts at all times. As such, failure to help others in healthcare settings may be regarded as a case of negligence (Pozgar, 2005). On the other hand, such a scenario occurring in the community may not qualify as case of negligence. Another leadership concerned addressed by beneficence relates to patient rights. Caregivers must ensure the protection of patient rights such as the right to communication, informed consent, confidentiality, and among others.

It is possible to incorporate the principle of autonomy into one’s leadership activities. One of the ways of incorporating the principle of autonomy into personal leadership activities is by promoting a healthy work environment. The principle of autonomy improves not only nurses’ satisfaction levels but also other aspects involving patient outcomes such as quality of care and patient safety. As a leader in a healthcare environment, it is important to establish a healthy environment that is conducive for both the patient and caregivers. According to Weston (2010), a positive work environment leads to reduced costs of caregiving. Autonomy gives patients the right to act as per their judgment. Nurses who exhibit greater control over their nursing practice have a greater responsibility to make departmental decisions relating to nursing care. By drawing on the ethical principles such as autonomy, the nurses are able to make correct decisions, which enhance the development of a positive work environment.

The principle of beneficence is applicable in personal leadership activities. This principle is applicable in improving the quality of care in a healthcare setting. By applying the principle of beneficence, nurses should be able to influence the patient care outcomes. Various caregivers such as nurses yield power or influence on various issues concerning patients (Parker, 2007). Nurses can gain power by developing positive working relationships with other individuals involved in caregiving such as physicians, nursing colleagues, and other members. Nurses can use this power to influence the quality of care delivered to patients. For instance, nurses may advocate for a better diet or improved conditions at the facility. This is in line with the principle of beneficence, which calls upon caregivers to demonstrate kindness and the will to help others.

To conclude, ethical principles are critical in guiding behavior especially in relation to healthcare organizations. Ethical principles in healthcare organizations help caregivers in decision-making and thus compliance to rules and regulations guiding behavior. This paper has examine the ethical principles of autonomy and beneficence, noting that they are critical in achieving positive patient outcomes. Autonomy gives patients the rights to make critical decisions pertaining to their bodies. A patient has the right to refuse treatment or a particular medical procedure. The principle of beneficence calls on caregivers to do good. Leaders must draw in ethical principles to help them make the right decisions in healthcare settings.


Parker, F., (2007). Ethics Column: “The Power of One”. OJIN: Online Journal of Issues in           Nursing, Vol. 13, No. 1. DOI: 10.3912/OJIN.Vol13No01EthCol01

Pozgar, G. D. (2005). Legal and ethical issues for health professionals. Boston: Jones and            Bartlett Publishers.

Weston, M.J., (Jan. 31, 2010) “Strategies for Enhancing Autonomy and Control Over Nursing             Practice” OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing Vol. 15, No. 1, Manuscript 2.             DOI: 10.3912/OJIN.Vol15No01Man02

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