Ethical Dilemma and Racism in Healthcare Leadership

Subject: Medical Ethics
Pages: 4
Words: 1084
Reading time:
5 min
Study level: College


The use of appropriate leadership strategies delivers desirable results promptly. Different theoretical concepts in organizational leadership support the power of ethical, moral, and legal practices. Ethical and moral standards in an organization foster evidence-based practices such as collaboration, teamwork, and support (Ericsson & Augustinsson, 2015). The targeted legal standards in this paper include a code of ethics, equality, and respect for others. The purpose of the paper is to describe an ethical dilemma experienced in my place of work.

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Conceptual Frameworks

An institution that embraces ethical leadership will promote proper decision-making, empowerment, and realization of organizational goals. The institution will also be characterized by the best working environment. Failure to promote moral or ethical leadership can result in burnout, differences, disagreements, and ineffectiveness. The absence of moral and ethical leadership attributes in an institution will affect the performance of different workers and eventually undermine the quality of services available to targeted clients (Lizarondo, Grimmer, & Kumar, 2014). This conceptual framework is guided by the notion that ethical and moral leadership attributes will always result in improved performance and quality healthcare practices. The opposite will also be true in such a scenario.

Ethical Dilemma

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are always expected to use their competencies to meet the changing needs of their clients (Ericsson & Augustinsson, 2015). I have encountered various ethical and moral dilemmas in my work environment. One of these dilemmas took place when I was working in a team focusing on providing care to patients suffering from terminal conditions. The team leader was treating some members of our unfairly. The affected nurse was African American. The ethical dilemma occurred because the leader was unwilling to empower the nurse since she was from a minority racial group.

Unfair treatment can affect a nurse’s effectiveness and ability to deliver exemplary services (Disch, 2014). The affected nurse became withdrawn and incapable of supporting the goals outlined by the team. The situation worsened until every member of the team realized that something was amiss. This ethical situation heartened every individual to consider the best approaches to support the colleague. The malpractice made it impossible for targeted clients in the unit to receive desirable health services.

Moral, Ethical, and Legal Implications


Several moral, legal and ethical implications are evident in this dilemma. To begin with, unfair treatment is malpractice that can affect the quality of health services available to more people. Disch (2014) defines moral leadership as an act of serving others selflessly. Leaders should focus on the best initiatives to build, mentor, and develop others. The discriminated nurse was unhappy since the leader was not acting morally. Any form of discrimination is unethical (Cianci, Hannah, Roberts, & Tsakumis, 2014). This is the case because ethical leadership is defined as a unique process aimed at fostering respect for people’s beliefs, values, rights, and dignity. The leadership concept is guided by values such as charisma, equality, honesty, and trust (Lizarondo et al., 2014). The leader in this scenario failed to uphold the most appropriate ethical skills.

From a legal viewpoint, it is notable that the leader did not act by the rationalities and policies outlined in the institution. Wong (2015) defines legal leadership as a managerial approach whereby the person in power acts by existing legal rationalities. The manager at the institution was therefore forced to examine the situation and make appropriate determinations. This approach was necessary to ensure the needs of every stakeholder in the unit were met promptly. The move ensured that the quality of services available to different patients was not undermined.

From this description, it is notable that the three leadership styles have specific differences. Legal leadership focuses on existing laws while ethical management promotes different values such as dignity and respect for one another (Cianci et al., 2014). Moral leadership differs from these two styles. This approach promotes selflessness and service. Despite such differences, the three styles work synergistically to promote the best practices and minimize ethical problems in a given working environment.

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My Role as a Moral Agent

The ethical dilemma became a turning point in my career. The use of different strategies can address a negative situation and eventually produce positive results (Ericsson & Augustinsson, 2015). As a moral agent, I chose to inform the institution’s top management about the malpractice. The manager was willing to analyze the situation before jumping into a conclusion. This approach led to new interventions in an attempt to transform the situation. I decided to go a step further to encourage every member of the team to confront the leader. The individual was ashamed of the malpractice and decided to quit. Fortunately, the manager was willing to give him a different role in the institution. The leader was also required to apologize to the institution’s policies.

I empowered my teammates to embrace the best practices without any form of discrimination. As a moral agent, I encouraged the individuals to focus on the most appropriate practices that could support the welfare of every patient. The teammates were willing to engage in meaningful practices, promote the concept of collaboration, and ensure the needs of different patients were met. My leadership approach was critical in changing the situation.

Personal Leadership Styles

The presented case made it easier for me to engage in self-assessment and self-reflection. I realized that I was capable of applying both democratic and charismatic leadership styles. With the use of such styles, I managed to empower and encourage my teammates to stand against any form of discrimination. At the same time, I encouraged the individuals to work as a team and focus on the changing needs of the targeted clients. A charismatic approach guides members of a team to feel empowered and courageous (Marquis & Huston, 2017).

The targeted individuals were willing to identify evidence-based approaches that could result in better outcomes. A democratic leadership style fosters openness, collaboration, and empowerment (Cianci et al., 2014). The use of these styles acted as facilitation during the ethical dilemma. The strategy facilitated the problem-solving process. Most of the individuals became aware of the hurdles associated with ineffective leadership. Consequently, the leader was reproached and transferred from the unit.


The above strategy can guide more NPs to act ethically and morally. NPs should always develop the best leadership dexterities in an attempt to minimize dilemmas that have the potential to affect patients’ outcomes (Lizarondo et al., 2014). By doing so, more patients will be in a position to receive quality medical services and eventually realize their potential.


Cianci, A. M., Hannah, S. T., Roberts, R. P., & Tsakumis, G. T. (2014). The effects of authentic leadership on followers’ ethical decision-making in the face of temptation: An experimental study. The Leadership Quarterly, 25(3), 581-594. Web.

Disch, J. (2014). Using evidence-based advocacy to improve the nation’s health. Nurse Leader, 12(4), 28-31. Web.

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Ericsson, U., & Augustinsson, S. (2015). The role of first line managers in healthcare organisations – A qualitative study on the work life experience of ward managers. Journal of Research in Nursing, 20(4), 280-295. Web.

Lizarondo, L., Grimmer, K., & Kumar, S. (2014). Assisting allied health in performance evaluation: A systematic review. BMC Health Services Research, 14(1), 572-589. Web.

Marquis, L., & Huston, J. (2017). Leadership roles and management functions in nursing: Theory and application (9th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.

Wong, C. A. (2015). Connecting nursing leadership and patient outcomes: State of the science. Journal of Nursing Management, 23(3), 275-278. Web.