Ethical Leadership Dynamic Teams Key for Education Development

In this article, I reproduce a discussion on issues relating to and meaning of Ethics, Ethical Leadership, Dynamic Teams and Challenges in Education Services Provision in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The work is part of an intensive post-graduate course at the Pacific Adventist University. The series of work on Education and Development was awarded a GPA of 3.8.

The key discussion point is that it is important to practice Ethical Leadership values and create a team of dynamic teams in the public service, especially at the national education level.

Key points:

  • Ethical leadership forms the foundation of strong public service.
  • A dynamic team is made up of ethical teams and team leaders.
  • Ethical leadership is about taking informed ACTIONS.
  • Ethical Team is Dynamic, not Static.
  • Communication is vital for establishing teams dynamics.

The work suggests that public service machinery with ethical leaders can create powerful teams within the National Education Department (NDoE) and other public service departments.

What is Ethical Leadership – ACTION

Martin’s (2016) article titled Ethical Leadership Guide: Definition, Qualities, Pros & Cons, Examples defines ethics as the

“moral principles that govern a person’s [leader’s] behaviour or the conducting of an activity. By being moral, you [the leader] is doing what is ‘right’.”

Though the perception of ethics may be different among leaders from different cultures, religions and geopolitical backgrounds, what is conceptually right from wrong is universal.

Ethical team leadership is based on an individual’s principles and his/her ability to manage a team of active members. The power of the team emanates from the values of the team leader, hence the phrase ethical team leader.

In the article titled Ethical Leadership Framework, Martin (2016) categorised ethical leadership into 3 components.

Education, Ethics and leadership PNG

Ethical Leadership Framework in Focus [adapted from Martin, 2016]

  • The first component of the framework is Internal Uniformity where the members work together rather than contradict each other;
  • The second component is Proactivity – communication is clear and open; and
  • The third component is Dynamic; teams are not static. The team’s strategies and capabilities are constantly re-examined and updated regularly.

Martin further stated that the 3 components of the ethical framework are not enough (para. 5) to create an ethical team’s culture.

What is required is action.

Becoming an Ethical Leader

Unlike the other leadership styles where the team leader’s styles are natured, Ethical Leadership is predominantly trait and value-based.

That means that an individual who is the leader of a team has a strong ethical (characteristic) foundation. Either strongly rooted in family value, faith, culture, school or a mixture of all.

Individual – attributes, qualifications and experiences

It is widely mentioned that intelligence is hardwired at birth and cannot be rewired (J. Cook, 2013; J. Knights, 2018; Martin, 2016).

Stages of ethics and leadership development
J. Knights, 2018

With the right environment, education and training, an individual can climb up the organisation ladder and be a leader.

Knights (2018) argued that most organisations favoured the traditional ascension of leaders and ignore individuals with ethical attributes and leadership potentials.

He further contested that

“Organisations [teams] must change and start identifying leaders that will be the right kind of leader when they get there, not just effective at climbing to the top.” (J. Knights, 2018).

In hindsight, he is implying that the potential of new employees and young leaders can be identified early in their career and developed them into successful ethical leaders. The leaders should not ONLY climb up the institutional ladders.

The fact, ethical leaders must also be identified, young, and trialled in workplaces to reach their full potential. In retrospect, not every young leader can take on leadership roles without real experience.

Ethical leaders in cross-cultural teams

Papua New Guineans come from different cultural backgrounds. Everyone behaves and acts in certain ways and according to how they perceive themselves among others in the workplace.

In the paper titled Cross-Cultural Awareness – Papua New Guinea, the former patrol officer P. Fitzpatrick observed that it was important to understand the multi-ethnicity and cultural backgrounds of PNG when working with them at the workplace or in teams.

P. Fitzpatrick (n.p) advised that the cross-cultural training at the workplaces have little effect on the ingrained cultural behaviours of both the white-collar and skilled workforce in the country.

He further implied that it was better to clearly articulate the aims of a team from the start – before resuming a leadership role (p. 1, para 5).

The writer may not have used the words ‘ethical leadership’ in his attempt to highlight the need to communicate cross-culturally in workplaces in PNG.

But he outlined the 3 components of the Ethical Leadership Framework highlighted earlier: Internal Uniformity in teams, Proactivity of the team leaders and creating teams that are Dynamic, not Static.

He summarised his paper that

‘when things do not work out, do not simmer in the background, make your position known’ and communicate it (P. Fitzpatrick, n.p, p.33).

Inevitably, ethical leadership is more than putting things in perspective and asking critical questions.

It is also about understanding the capability of the team and trusting team members, as well as addressing pertinent issues in the team.

Transitioning to Team Leader

The transitioning from an individual to team player and team leader in a development process.

As discussed in section 3.1, there is a difference between individual climbing up the organisational ladder and leaders groomed to be ethical leaders.

It is perhaps important to note that the ethical attributes of a leader are influenced by the home, church, qualification, training and friends (Tim Cook, 2013).

Furthermore, good behaviours do not always make the individual an ethical leader by default. Ethical leadership requires a shift in perspectives and prioritising actions based on ethics.

Additionally, an ethical leader makes decisions in the best interest and for the success of the team. They ask the obvious ethical questions raised by P. Pinnell and S. Eagan (cited by Martin in Cleverism, 2016):

  • The child on your shoulder. Are you OK for doing the action, even if your children are watching?
  • The front paper story. Would you feel OK if the action/behaviour became the front-page story in your local newspaper?
  • The golden rule. Are you comfortable for being on the receiving end of this action or decisions?
  • The rule of universality. Would it be OK if everyone in the world would behave or act that way?

Five (5) Pertinent Issues and Challenges in Public Service

This section attempts to highlight the 5 pertinent internal (3.1 – 3.4) and external issues (3.5) in the government institutions, and particularly the education department in PNG.

Punctuality and Attendance to Work

At the national level, the government institutions have a monitoring system for the public servants. For example, the National Department of Education (NDoE) have put in place an attendance and punctuality monitoring device – Bio Plus. The Bio Plus records clock in/out times of every officer.

The ICT team at Fincorp Haus, Waigani mans the attendance independently. Any prolonged absence without good reason can result in automatic cease of pay.

In addition, each division, provincial branch or school requires that every officer signs in/out manually on the Attendance Checklist.

The checklist is used for record keeping and in-house monitoring of officers’ attendance and punctuality; and for record keeping.

Though the two monitoring systems have been used concurrently, there is a need for honesty to prevail. The public servants need to turn up on time and DO FULL DAY’S WORK.

Therefore, it requires officers to be honest and do the day’s work, every day, when they sign in for work.

This example shows that there are monitoring systems put in place in the public service sector. However, there is a lack of honesty or productivity in a day’s work.

Public Service Annual Activities Framework

The annual activities are important for preparing work in the Public Service. It appears that many departments, divisions, units and professional working groups within the public service do not have a simple work plan like the one shown below.

Sample work plans

Education Department Annual Activities Framework [adapted as a SAMPLE]

Note that a calendar is not a work plan. A work plan is a clear timeline that puts into perspective the annual activities.

Relevant and Updated Data

The benefits of having specific data relating to each department or division or section of the public service is vital. Data can be used to [re]present information relevant to improving the work of an organisation.

A public service department without updated and relevant data relating to it’s core functions is static.

In-house Communication – Main Team vs the Leaders

In public service, work is done by observing and learning from other public servants. Information and activities are often circulated in smaller groups on a need-to-do basis. This happens when there is a lack of activities plan, mentioned above.

This is common among the public service, sadly. Martin [2016] hinted earlier that the absence of Internal Communication can have a negative impact on a team’s culture, hence it’s lack of performances.

The rationale behind this discussion – Ethics and Team Leadership Challenges – is that communication, working in teams and taking the ‘right’ action is powerful.

In-house communication (debriefing, meeeting, training) must be well planned and carried out to optimise time without using up the working hours.

Great teams and their leaders know what to communicate, and when to communicate plans, ideas and take actions.

Smaller Teams vs Team Leaders

The effectiveness of the public service is the result of the effectiveness of the smaller teams and their leaders.

For example, the National education department is a very large team of different divisions. And, within each division, there are smaller teams of less than 5 or 10 officers.

The strength of the NDoE can be realised if the smaller teams within each division start to create ethical teams that focus on delivering on their aims and objective.

The strong team as dynamic and powerful as the smaller units/teams within it.

Discussion: Creating Dynamic Teams, Not Static!

Transitioning from an individual to team player to team leader is a process.

Powerful attributes of some individuals are hardwired at birth; some are developed and rewired through time from home, cultural background, education, church and experiences.

In essence, the values include management and decision-making abilities based on techniques and rules of regionalizing situations such as the:

  • The child on your shoulder. Are you OK for doing the action, even if your children are watching?
  • The front paper story. Would you feel OK if the action/behaviour became the front-page story in your local newspaper?
  • The golden rule. Are you comfortable for being on the receiving end of this action or decisions?
  • The rule of universality. Would it be OK if everyone in the world would behave or act that way?

The ethical attributes that an individual team player, if identified early, form the basis of his/her leadership development. It further gives meaning to ‘Ethics and Team Leadership Challenges in Education’.

Challenges in Public Service – Department of Education

The Department of Education and its divisions have 5 pertinent challenges. The challenges are both internal and external.

It is perhaps important to reiterate that the internal challenges like Punctuality and Attendance and Annual Activity Framework are routine tasks, and should be considered mandatory.

For the education department to be effective, communication with the divisions and divisional teams must be well planned and executed tactically.

The education divisions must be dynamic, rather than static. As mentioned earlier, the key questions for empowering teams needed answering are:

  • Internal Uniformity where the members work together rather than contradict each other?
  • Proactivity where the team leaders are communicating openly and clearly?
  • re-examining and updating of teams’ abilities and work plans?


Finally, in the discussion (‘on Ethics and Team Leadership Challenges in Education Services Provision) we found out that ’Ethical Team Leadership is taking actions based on what is right; valuing team members and working for the best interest of the team.

It is a challenge for divisional and team leaders in the education circles to create teams that are dynamic – not static!

Write’s Note

This is a series of presentation and academic writing on the issue in discussion – Ethics, Leadership, Dynamic Teams and Workplace Relationship. The work has been adapted and presented here to a wider audience.

It is the aim of the writer to help undergrad, postgrad students or leaders who are interested in the theme of Ethical Leadership and Development. For more information on this work or any research work on Education and Development, message the writer on Twitter or leave a message below.


Fitzpatrick, P. (n.d.). Cross Cultural Awareness In Papua New Guinea. Retrieved from Keith Jackson & Friends: PNG ATTITUDE:

Knights, J. (2018, 03 09). CRC Press Online. Retrieved from ETHICAL LEADERSHIP: HOW TO DEVELOP ETHICAL LEADERS:

Martin. (2016, August 11). Ethical Leadership Guide Definition, Qualities, Pros & Cons, Examples. Retrieved from Cleverism:

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