Using a sample of 124 managers and 248 subordinates, this study examines the mediating effect of subordinates’ job satisfaction in the relationship between ethical leadership and subordinate organizational citizenship and counter-productive work behaviour in the Colombian context. We additionally analyse the effect of ethical leadership on subordinates’ perception of leaders’ performance. Factor analyses of the ethical leadership scale revealed two factors, ethical person (EP) and ethical guidance (EG), which were differentially associated to the outcomes. We offer an explanation from three cultural dimensions (in-group collectivism, institutional collectivism, and power distance) by which Colombian employees seem to be more willing to follow leaders’ ethical example as a way to strengthen their membership to the leader's group, than leaders ethical disciplining by which norms are imposed. These findings have a number of implications for organizations and managers who aim to improve their employees’ behaviour. Our advice to them is that leaders’ deeds have a greater impact than their ethical words.