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Terrorist Leaders – How Ethical Must They Be?

Leadership Lessons from Compelling Contexts

ISBN: 978-1-78560-942-8, eISBN: 978-1-78560-941-1

Publication date: 3 March 2016


The chapter tries to highlight the critical importance of values to leadership, and argues that the research design of the ‘social scientific’ mainstream is incommensurable with the language of the scientific discipline that studies values: moral philosophy. The chapter shows that (a) through goals and actions, ethics is a central aspect of leadership and (b) that ethics cannot be reinterpreted as being ‘value-neutral’. Therefore, ‘effective’ leadership must always be connected to a specific value set. After arguing that leadership cannot be meaningfully looked at without reference to virtue ethics, two case studies are used to demonstrate the relationship between the two. By looking at two prominent terrorist leaders, the chapter shows how values are at the heart of their visions and actions. There are at least two practical implications: the study of leadership, and leadership education, must be reconnected with moral philosophy. The chapter connects three hitherto unconnected topics: leadership, (virtue) ethics and terrorism, presenting new insights into especially leadership.



Al Raffie, D. and Huehn, M.P. (2016), "Terrorist Leaders – How Ethical Must They Be?", Leadership Lessons from Compelling Contexts (Monographs in Leadership and Management, Vol. 8), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 209-239.



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