Moral Resilience in Ethical Leadership: When Good is Rewarded with Bad


Based on the principles of fairness and reciprocity, people typically expect that good deeds will be rewarded. However, when real-life situations deviate from this expectation, individuals often feel shocked and their moral motivation may be negatively impacted. The aim of this study is to explore how ethical leaders prevent negative impacts on their moral motivation when their good deeds are rewarded with bad outcomes. As no prior research has systematically explored this research question, this study adopts a qualitative research approach. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 23 ethical leaders from Taiwan. Thematic analysis was employed to identify various psychological strategies, which were further categorized. Analysis showed some leaders assimilate negative experiences into their previous belief by seeing the silver lining. Some leaders emphasize intrinsic ethical values or show empathy to maintain moral motivation. Others let go of reward expectations and transcend dichotomies of good and bad. These ethical leaders demonstrate a wide array of psychological strategies to maintain moral motivation when good deeds result in negative consequences.

Author Information
Sophia Chou, National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan

Paper Information
Conference: IICAH2024
Stream: Philosophy

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon