Ethical Leadership

“A leader is a person who has an unusual degree of power to project onto other people his or her shadow or his or her light…A leader is a person who must take special responsibility for what is going on inside him or herself lest the act of leadership create more harm than good.” Parker. J. Palmer.

Leadership for Good

This way of thinking about leadership places emphasis on reflectiveness, understanding the self and the ‘being’ of the leader as a complement to skills and ‘techniques’ for the ‘doing’ of leadership.

A helpful framework for holding the two together is the idea that we are on a number of journeys through our lives and that people with responsibility for leadership need to be particularly aware of each journey and the work of keeping them in balance.  Gillian Stamp, BIOSS.

Our Team

Professor James McCalman is a senior academic with executive and leadership experience in the private, charity and higher education sectors. He has driven several change/transformation projects and gained wide experience of management and postgraduate teaching in the UK, Europe, Southeast Asia and the United States.

James’s current Research Interests include:

  • Ethical Leadership challenges and the politics of change
  • Leading large-scale organizational change
  • Leadership development and coaching

Dr Matthew Anderson - Prior to joining the University of Portsmouth, Matthew was a Strategic Analyst at the Central Office of Information (COI). Working on policy and communications projects, this role involved applying behavioural science research to develop evidence-based programmes for departments across government including: BIS, Cabinet Office, DECC, Defra and DFID.

Matthew’s research centres on the networks and relationships that have evolved between business and civil society organisations (CSOs), and are now one of the defining features of the Fair Trade movement. At a conceptual level his work has focused on exploring and unpacking notions of ‘fairness’; and this has been underpinned by empirical research investigating how Fair Trade has been practiced and operationalized both in the UK and in the Global South.


Dr Wenjin Dai is a Lecturer in Organisation Studies. She graduated with a PhD in Leadership from the Centre for Leadership Studies in University of Exeter. Previously she worked at a Japanese MNC subsidiary in China, translating and cultivating corporate philosophy across the organisation. She also worked as a manager and consultant in a start-up Web Sharing company in Shanghai. 

Her research interests include Corporate Sustainability, Responsible Leadership, and Organisational Culture. She is particularly interested in ethnographic research, the dynamics of translation in process, visual representations, and Confucian & Taoist understandings of leadership.


Current Projects

Professor McCalman along with other colleagues is currently developing a research project to examine leader development training provision in the Public Services.

Dr Anderson is currently developing a collaborative research project on ethical leadership with colleagues at Cardiff University and the University of Edinburgh. This work investigates how leaders employ values and frames to win organisational support for ethical programmes such as Fairtrade.

Matthew is also working with partners at WWF, Shared Interest and the University of the South Pacific to investigate how the lessons of Fairtrade’s social finance initiatives can be applied to a people-centred model for sustainable shipping. The project will explore how social finance can adapt to the local context and risk profile of external grant providers and community investment.

Dr Dai is currently developing research collaborations with colleagues from both the UK and China, looking at the roles of translation in organising processes and the narratives on sustainable and ethical leadership.