How Does Taking the High Road Affect Leadership?

When a leader takes the high road, she rises above the occasion and sets aside her ego to do what is right according to accepted moral and ethical standards. Leaders who take the high road set a positive example; those who do not risk losing respect and influence. Taking the high road affects leadership by enhancing its credibility and positive effects on others.

Offensive Position

  1. Taking the high road in a leadership position keeps the leader from being forced onto the defensive in an argument. When a detractor provokes an argument that uses negative rhetoric, it often puts the leader on the defensive. For instance, if a detractor says a leader does not care about his employees, the leader's first instinct may be to discredit the detractor and argue. Leaders who take the high road do not acknowledge baseless arguments from detractors, and show others they should not engage in petty tussles.


  1. Leaders in the workplace who take the high road are better able to maintain and improve worker productivity. If a leader involves herself in petty arguments or situations, she expends energy that she could use making the business more successful. For example, if a manager has personal problems with an employee that are not associated with work and tries to find reasons to fire the employee, she not only wastes time on a vendetta that does nothing for the company, she also risks losing a valuable employee, further hurting the organization.


  1. Leaders encourage open discussions and constructive suggestions when they take the high road. If a leader were to consistently berate and dismiss the ideas of others, they would hesitate to engage with that leader in the future. For instance, if a leader's approach to a project does not work, a subordinate may approach him and suggest changes. If the leader cannot overcome his ego and takes the low road by resisting, the subordinate concludes that effective communication is not possible.This has a ripple effect throughout the organization.


  1. Leaders increase their ability to motivate others when they take the high road in ethical situations. If a leader consistently does the right thing in such situations, it motivates others to mimic her actions. For instance, if a business makes a mistake and its leader is honest about the problem despite the effects on her reputation and that of the business, she motivates employees to maintain a higher ethical standard in the workplace.