What is it about?

Do directors of care centres and/or organization managers transmit values and the importance of behaving appropriately to staff providing care service to elderly or disabled persons? Can the morality, or ethical approach of leaders be measured? Care staff that have ethical leaders, experience an healthier and more satisfacing workplace? This paper shows that the Ethical leadership scale is valid also in healthcare centres for elderly and disabled people. In addition, it shows that the staff of centres (nurses, assistants, social workers, maintenance or cooking staff) that perceive their leader as a moral person and a moral manager, also perceive the unit, or the centre, as being collectively less stressed, more satisfied and more engaged with their job, and more oriented to provide a better service to patients.

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Why is it important?

Some healthcare organizations provide a service that is vital for citizens that are in need and with lower level of autonomy. The behavior of healthcare leaders is under scrutiny and it is important that they not only demonstrate a normatively appropriate behavior but also promote such conduct among healthcare staff. The study shows that leaders that behave ethically contribute to create employees' collective perception that their unit, or centre, is working adequately and is providing a respectful and morally oriented service.


This study was conducted in a large private organization whose centres are spread in many northern regions of Italy. Maintaining a strong connection with directors of healthcare centres and being sure that they promote and reinforce the values of the organization, is an important challenge for the head office. Monitoring the level of ethical leadership is one way to secure that organizational culture and values are spread correctly and shared by the staff of each centre. In the medium to longer term, the impact of ethical leadership on employees' behavior and customer satisfaction promises to have also a positive financial impact.

Salvatore Zappala
Universita degli Studi di Bologna

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The Ethical Leadership Scale (ELS): Italian adaptation and exploration of the nomological network in a health care setting, Journal of Nursing Management, March 2020, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1111/jonm.12967.
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