Enron’s Ethical Collapse: Lessons for Leadership Educators

Top officials at Enron abused their power and privileges, manipulated information, engaged in inconsistent treatment of internal and external constituencies, put their own interests above those of their employees and the public, and failed to exercise proper oversight or shoulder responsibility for ethical failings. Followers were all too quick to follow their example. Therefore, implications for teaching leadership ethics include, educators must: (a) share some of the blame for what happened at Enron, (b) integrate ethics into the rest of the curriculum, (c) highlight the responsibilities of both leaders and followers, (d) address both individual and contextual variables that encourage corruption, (e) recognize the importance of trust and credibility in the leader-follower relationship, and (f) hold followers as well as leaders accountable for ethical misdeeds.