Q&A: What do you think is “ethical leadership”?
(Write 2-3 paragraphs)
Ethical leaders do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons. They put their ethics before the bottom line and this makes it more likely for their teams to be loyal, dedicated and ethical in return.
Ethical leaders seek to;
- Maintain trust and credibility
- Influence without hostility
- Create a sense of community
Ethical decision making is necessary for organisations to reach optimal potential. The most admired organisations display high levels of credibilty, vision and relationships, both internally and externally.
Before looking at how to be an ethical leader, it is useful to consider what might lead to an ethical failure.
A number of connected factors can lead to ethical failures by individual leaders and by organisations.
Individual causes of ethical failures include; ignoring boundaries such as organisational values, following the crowd (“everyone else is doing it, so why not me?”), lack of self-control or lack of acceptance of change (“that’s the way things have always been done”). But the fact we do something doesn’t mean we should.
Organisational causes of ethical failures include; lack of positive role models, lack of standards of behaviour and training, and lack of accountability.
Keep in mind that ethical failures may or may not be due to just one of these factors, but a combination that in turn creates a ripple effect.
Now imagine what can happen when you have three or more of these factors (and perhaps others not named here) happening at the same time. Each additional factor can develop more problems.
Our goal as leaders is to prevent the problems that lead to a failure of ethical leadership. To do that, we need to start talking about the dynamics that cause ethical problems and how to keep them from happening in our organisations.
Clear standards for behaviour
Be sure that you have clear standards for leadership performance that include expectations for ethical leadership.
Often companies have leadership standards, but they are vague and/or do not include specific expectations for leading ethically.
If you have clear standards, ensure that the behaviour of the disruptive senior leaders is specified in the standards as not acceptable. If not, it’s time to change the standards.
If you have standards for ethical leadership, it’s time to hold them accountable for not following the standards.
The individuals who are not following the organisations standards need to be made aware of:
- the need for leaders to consistently model the leadership that is expected of others.
- the need for an ethical culture to appeal to today’s ethics-savvy consumers.
- the need for consistency and trust that starts with the leaders, to be able to attract and keep good employees.
How to be an ethical leader
Six steps you can take to define ethical standards, and to start putting those high standards into practice.
- Organisations are committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity in alignment with their organisational core values.
- Organisations have clear rules about the behaviour it expects from its employees.
Q&A: How would you define your top values? Use the list below – aim for 10 then prioritise.
(Write 2-3 paragraphs)
Overview of personal core values
Values are the primary drivers of all human behaviour. We have a hierarchy of values that drive our behaviour. They are intangible abstract concepts and can evolve over time.
Personal values are an internal reference for what we find good, important and desirable. They generate our emotions, thoughts and behaviour and influence the choices we make. Cultural values are the values that the members of that community share with one and another.
A values conflict occurs when we are forced to behave in a way that is not in alignment with our own values. It produces an uncomfortable internal feeling. To deal with that undesirable feeling, people either change their behaviour, or change their value.
The focus is putting our values into action. This can be instituted at a hospital, stream/division, team and individual level.
Teams can openly receive feedback on how their actions and behaviours match (or not) the organisations values in their everyday interactions. Challenging, confronting, and in theory an excellent idea. as each person of the team will hold every other team member accountable!
If you are aware of and live by the organisational values and your personal values, you can begin to create the right environment for your team and your organisation.
People will model their behaviour on yours and they will, in turn, set an example for others to follow. The “ripple effect” can be wide reaching.
A threat to your image could skew your judgment.
Q&A: What if you make a mistake, for example – will you admit to it or try to cover it up?
(Write 2-3 paragraphs)
Listen to your “inner voice.” Your conscience likely tells you when something is not right, creating a feeling of uneasiness. If a situation makes you uncomfortable or goes against one of your core values or beliefs, stop and think things through rationally before proceeding.
Recognising an ethical dilemma is one thing, though deciding what to do about them is another thing entirely. Even when you know what you ought to do, actually doing it can be very difficult.
There are several ways to respond to an ethical dilemma:
- Prepare in advance. Visualising theoretical scenarios can help you to work through your feelings and decide what to do in reality, so rehearsing can be a great help.
- Weigh up the evidence. Review the data, interview those involved and the reports of the situation. Wherever possible, take the time to investigate and assess whether someone has behaved unethically, before taking action.
- Re-evaluate your decision before you act. If you’re in a difficult situation and you’re unsure what to do, try making a decision . But before you act on it, ask yourself is this decision the right one, try and work your way through it.
- Get advice. Getting input from others can help you assess a situation more rationally and lead to better-quality decisions.
Sometimes, you’ll act on a decision but wonder if you did the right thing. Even when you’re certain that you were right, there can still be unpleasant consequences.
You can be honest and correct, but the result may be that friends and colleagues require performance management.
So, you might be uncomfortable at times as an ethical leader, but these situations can teach you to trust yourself and your instincts. If you calm your anxiety and look logically at the situation, your instincts will often guide you in the right direction.
3 Key Qualities of ethical leaders
Moral courage -at the right time in the right way promote practice and skills of positive thinking and role modelling behaviour that you expect within the workplace.
Imagination – what its like to be somebody else and understand how they see the world.
Strategic vision – capacity to see when its time to take action for significant change.
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Mindtools. 2020. Ethical Leadership Doing the Right Thing. https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_58.htm Accessed 13 May 2020.
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