Johannesburg - Ethical leadership is not an option but a national imperative, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said on Monday."[It] really isn't an option but a national imperative because when you are a leader you have the authority to influence those that you lead, and it is what you do that largely determines what those who follow you are likely to do."Mogoeng was speaking at a conference at the Gordon Institute of Business Science under the theme 'Serious Social Investing Conference'.Mogoeng said it was important for leaders, both in the public and the private sector, to espouse the characteristics of ethical leadership to ensure that the country moved forward in a direction which sought to undo the wrongs of the past."We are where we are as a result of what unethical leadership did to us as a nation," Mogoeng said.He said the forced removals of people from their homes, the designing of separate educational systems for people of different races and as well the exclusion of a large part of the nation from taking part in the economic sector of the country were all examples of what bereft and unethical leadership could do to a nation."No wonder the preamble to our Constitution says 'We the people of South Africa recognise the injustices of the past'. To make that statement as a nation assumes that there will be ethical leadership in the government and the corporate sector to make sure that something is done about the injustices of the past," Mogoeng said."You don't just recognise them for the sake of recognising them."Mogoeng warned against the influence of business in the political realm, saying elected leaders needed to be honest and act for the common good rather than for those who were funding their campaigns. This was the kind of leadership the country needed, he said."Ethical leadership leaves no room for corruption, ethical leadership leaves no room for the manipulation of politicians by the corporate world."Allowing those who funded political campaigns to influence how one governed his or her people, was pure corruption, Mogoeng said."Allowing funding of political campaigns by the business community to dictate whether you are going to shirk your key responsibilities or give practical expression to the practical aspirations of your people, is the corruption that comes into being, that is facilitated by the absence of ethical leadership."This was why it was imperative for South Africa to have ethical leaders, he said.Looking up to a leaderOne of the most important reasons why it was so crucial to lead in this way, was to be an example to those who followed and looked up to that leader."What you do... largely determines what those who follow you are likely to do. When the leader is unethical in his or her approach, check what those closer to him or her do.""For taking what does not belong to him or her, that leader lacks ethics and watch what those that are answerable to him or her, are going to do."They have the boldness to do it because they know, should he or she raise a finger, they will produce something."So everybody then becomes a co-participant in the unashamed betrayal of the legitimate, constitutional aspirations of the people they claim to represent, the people whose aspirations they claim to cherish," he said.Two weeks ago Mogoeng handed down a unanimous Constitutional Court judgment that found that President Jacob Zuma had failed to uphold the Constitution when he did not comply with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's remedial action regarding payment for the upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.Zuma has also faced criticism over his ties to the controversial Gupta family. Former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor claimed that the Guptas had offered her the position of public enterprises minister in 2010 while Zuma was in the other room at the family’s Saxonwold home.Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas has also claimed that the family offered him then-finance minister Nhlanhla Nene's job.