Moral Leadership: Part 1


Moral – Concerning or relating to what is right and wrong in human behavior (Merriam-Webster).

Leadership – To influence the thoughts, feelings, and actions of others towards a desired purpose.

During the third week of June 2015, “the FBI arrested 46 doctors and nurses across the country in the largest Medicare fraud bust ever. In total, 243 people were arrested in 17 cities for allegedly billing Medicare for $712 million worth of patient care that was never given or unnecessary,” according to CNN.

In April 2016, a named partner in a prominent Kansas City-area law firm plead guilty in federal court to stealing $1.2 million from Saint Luke’s Health System.   “He voluntarily surrendered his license to practice law in Kansas and Missouri in November, saying only he violated the Rules of Professional Conduct,” according to the Kansas City Business Journal.

The stories and facts are very clear. There is moral erosion in our society. There is sexual misconduct, fraud, and violence in the workplace.

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Sexual Misconduct

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stated in 2015 that there were 6,822 reported sexual harassment allegations costing organizations $46 million in monetary benefits.

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The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners did a global fraud study and “estimated that the typical organization loses 5% of revenues each year to fraud. If applied to the 2013 estimated Gross World Product, this translates to a potential projected global fraud loss of nearly $3.7 trillion.”

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“In 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported more than 23,000 significant injuries due to assault at work,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

These three examples give the big picture of some immoral behaviors that lead to personal, organizational, and community consequences. We can easily see the costs of doing wrong have enormous financial and societal implications.

But, moral misconduct is also very personal and close to us. It happens when people slander, intimidate, lie, and take advantage of one another at work, home, school, and in our neighborhoods. The truth is that we cannot really escape or completely eliminate bad behaviors. First, immoral behaviors are prevalent throughout human history and in every society. This is not a new problem. Also, as much as we would like a utopia of goodness, a second realization is that we are all guilty of moral misconduct. This is not said to condemn or excuse these behaviors. It is merely pointing out the struggles of our human condition.

You may now be saying to yourself, “Thanks, Todd, for bringing up all the junk in the world and in myself. This is truly inspiring.”

Actually, I hope you are feeling a little uncomfortable thinking about this topic. I am somewhat uncomfortable addressing this topic because it is difficult, and there are no easy answers.

What I hope to do through this series of blogs is to…

  1. Be a voice to say there is moral misconduct and it is not right.
  2. Help us think about the reasons why there is immoral behavior.
  3. Encourage us to be moral leaders that lead ourselves well and positively impact the people around us.

What is moral leadership? Here is my definition.

Moral Leadership – To do what is right and influence others to do what is right!

To be a moral leader, I believe we have to start with self-reflection and awareness. This may get even more uncomfortable, but the following exercise is worth it.


The Seven Deadly Sins are a widely accepted list of temptations for immoral behavior. Reflect on your own corrupt tendencies through the lens of the Seven Deadly Sins. Again, this is a starting point to leading yourself well as a moral leader.

Seven Deadly Sins

  • Pride is excessive belief in one’s own abilities.
  • Envy is the desire to have others’ traits, status, abilities, or circumstances.
  • Gluttony is an inordinate desire to consume more than one requires.
  • Lust is an inordinate craving for the pleasures of the body.
  • Anger is the expression of fury or wrath.
  • Greed is the excessive desire for material wealth or gain.
  • Sloth is the avoidance of work.


  • Where does the temptation to do what is wrong show up in your life?
  • What are the consequences if you give in to the temptations?

Together, let us be part of the moral solutions instead of contributing to the immoral problems.