Centre for Excellence in Ethical Leadership

The subject of ethical leadership produces a range of opinions. Some leaders consider ethics a distraction, while others view it as a necessary box to tick. In contrast, other leaders assure us that ethical leadership is good for business. Nevertheless, while ethical leadership and profitability may go hand in hand, an ethical leader must be prepared to act in ways that are unpopular and which may hurt the bottom line.

The Centre for Excellence in Ethical Leadership’s vision is to be a premier research centre focused on researching, teaching and promoting leadership ethics. The Centre explores a broad range of key questions, including:

  • What is ethical leadership and how can we recognise it when we see it?
  • How should we measure ethical leadership?
  • How should we promote ethical leadership?
  • Is ethical leadership a luxury or a dividend generator?
  • How does an ethical leader approach strategy, public relations and crisis management?
  • How does an ethical leader inspire ethical behaviour at all levels of his or her organisation?
  • What policies, systems and training does an ethical leader implement to encourage ethical behaviour?
  • How should ethical leaders reason through ethical challenges and ‘sell’ the ethical reasoning behind their decisions?

Consistent with the mission of Chancellor Institute, the Centre acts as a conduit connecting academia with professionals in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.


The Centre is home to a vibrant research community consisting of permanent academic staff, adjunct and visiting researchers, and research students. While the Centre’s research focus is on leadership ethics, this topic will be conceived broadly and inclusively, ranging from conceptual research to empirical investigations and practical application. Research of an interdisciplinary nature is encouraged, as well as collaboration between our researchers and members of diverse industries and sectors.


While research is the Centre’s primary focus, it also provides a range of short courses, executive education program, and coursework units on leadership ethics. These programs provide participants with a solid foundation in ethical theory as well as guide them in the practical application of ethical leadership.

Promoting Ethical Leadership

The Centre promotes and inspires ethical leadership in multiple ways, including through:

  1. Staff participation in public debates: For example, by being interviewed on television or radio, or by writing newspaper opinion pieces and blogs.
  2. An annual keynote debate: These are held between notable academics and / or public figures and involve a topic of current relevance.
  3. An annual student debate: As with the keynote debates, these involve participants debating the ethics of a particular leadership scenario, typically involving a high-profile case from the preceding year. Unlike the keynote debaters, however, students may be assigned a position at odds with their personal beliefs, with the aim being to foster an exploration of ethical ideas.
  4. Ethical Leadership Awards: These are awarded to organisations and individuals in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Awards are determined by a panel of ethicists and industry leaders. Nominations are opened to the public, although panel members may also consider worthy candidates who have not been nominated. Awards are presented at award events, which may be held in conjunction with the keynote and / or student debates.