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Harsco Effects of Leadership Ethics Essay

People- and, in context, leaders – have to make decisions. Leaders make decisions that significantly affect the integrity and autonomy of other people. However, as Joanne Ciulla notes at the start of her treatment of leadership ethics, “We live in a world where leaders are often morally disappointing. Even the greats of the past… are diminished by probing biographers who document their ethical shortcomings” (Ciulla, 1998). This might be even truer for leaders in everyday life, such as organizational leaders.

Pressure for profits, increasing in companies as a consequence of globalization worldwide, requires acknowledgement. Pressure on managers often leads them to focus only on things that bring in money and ignore the needs, goals and rights of those led. Ethical question and reflections about morality – as a consequence – not on the agenda. Both for-profit organizations and nonprofit organizations are similarly affected by ethical questions because leadership relations occur in every type of organization (Goethals et al, 2004) .

Harsco is one of these organizations wherein leadership plays a very crucial role in its growth. Harsco is a diversified industrial manufacturing service company whose operations fall into three Operating Groups. Harsco conducts its business through 10 Divisions and has 16 varied

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classes of products and services and has over 175 major facilities in 30 countries, including the United States. The Mission of Harsco Corporation is to achieve consistent, superior financial returns from operations complemented by targeted and prudent growth in markets and technologies familiar to the Company.

They also aim to develop and maintain the lead of industry positions in the markets by providing its customers with the best value (Abrahams, 1999). In order for Harsco to achieve their mission, then, they would need to support and enhance their innovative organizational processes by leadership ethics and values. The ethics of leadership would always affect the ethos of a workplace. As such, whether it is bad or good, positive or negative, workplace at Harsco would be affected by the ethical choices and decisions of its workers, more specifically of its leaders.

As such, Harsco leaders should help set the tone and develop the vision. In addition to this, they should also be able to shape the behavior of all those involved in the life of the organization. According to Burns (1979), leadership is not just about directed results; it is also about offering followers a choice among real alternatives. Hence, Harsco leadership assumes competition, conflict and debate. To support their innovative organizational processes, it is essential that power and its judicious use should be taken into consideration.

“Leadership mobilizes” (Burns, ibid. ) and “naked power coerces”. However, power need not be dictatorial or punitive to be effective. For example, Harsco leaders could use power in order to orchestrate, direct and guide their members to pursuit their mission. Harsco leaders could also use power to engage followers, not merely direct them. In addition to this, Harsco leaders could become models and mentors, not martinets. Hence, the use of power requires the direction and control of morality and ethics (Sharma and Bhal, 2004).

When this is done properly, then the probability that Harsco would achieve consistent and superior financial returns from its operations would be higher. If Harsco leaders would use power unethically, then chances for resigning employees would increase. As a consequence of this, there would be less manpower to continue the company’s goals. In addition to this, power would place unnecessary pressure over the workers, increasing more stress and resulting to less productivity or efficiency. How can a company achieve its goals while working inefficiently or with less growth?

As such, leadership ethics and values would greatly help in making people move and at the same time, be moved by their results.


Abrahams, J. (1999). The Mission Statement Book: 301 Corporate Mission Statements from America’s Top Companies. Canada: Ten Speed Press. Ciulla, J. B. (1998). Ethics, Heart of Leadership. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc. Goethals, G. R. , Sorenson, G. J. , & Burns, J. M. (2004). Encyclopedia of Leadership. United Kingdom: Berkshire Publishing Group LLC. Sharma, P. , & Bhal, K. T. (2004). Managerial Ethics: Dillemas and Decision Making. New Delhi: Sage Publications India Pvt Ltd.

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