Factors to Consider in being an Ethical Leader

How many ethical leaders are there in the world today? It is easy to point fingers at leaders and criticise their style of operating. What is more important is whether each of us is being an ethical leader in how we run our own business.

Some factors to consider

Merriam-Webster’s on line definition of ethics is summarised as follows: 1. the discipline of dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation 2. a set of moral principles: a theory or system of moral values.  Sadly in our currently reality ethical behaviour is not seen as important. Yet, society is showing their dissatisfaction and calling for ethical and moral self-regulation of enterprises.

So how can you develop ethical leadership?

Lead and interact with greater self-awareness if you want to demonstrate ethical leadership. This means that we consciously think of how we behave at work. Are we motivated largely by fulfilling our own needs i.e. to make a great deal of money irrespective of how fairly we operate? Or are we keen to make decisions that are best for all the people involved in or affected by our business? Are you driven by your interests or theirs?

Do you ever think about your motivation for responding in a certain way? What is your true agenda when interacting with clients or staff?

Being an ethical leader concerns higher order values. The great Greek philosopher, Aristotle, strongly believed in ethics. He spoke of the benefits of duty, responsibility, accountability, prudence and generous action. Aristotle respected moral courage and excellence.

In his view leaders must put the interests of their followers above their own. Furthermore he advocated the need to contribute unselfishly to the welfare of our communities.

Living consciously contributes to becoming an ethical leader. Ethical leadership involves a higher level of consciousness. When we live an ethical life we consciously shift our focus from ourselves to the broader community.

Living consciously means that we think about our behaviour, decisions and actions. What will the impact be of the choices we make? Who will benefit? How can you make better decisions that will benefit your team as a whole? How can you show your clients you can add value to their lives by being an ethical leader?

We live in a world where any kind of behaviour is tolerated. So ask yourself: Where are morals slipping in how you interact with clients and staff? How do your clients and employees rate you as an ethical leader?

Words such as: excessive, controlling, calculating, arrogance, competitive, superior, punitive, coercing, forceful, materialistic are examples of ego based levels of consciousness.

On the other hand words like: abundant, accepting, appreciative, concerned, considerate, courageous, democratic, honest, principled, etc are reflective of a higher level of consciousness. Which of these words are relevant to your leadership style?

Ways to increase ethical leadership

Make time to reflect. A retired managing director commented how he used to hold debriefing sessions with himself after meetings. He would review what he learnt about himself and what he could do differently. Barry knew when he was being egotistical and thinking only of his needs. When his focus shifted to finding solutions that benefited all parties his credibility with clients increased rapidly.

Take a stand. In a society that is plagued with examples of poor ethical leaders, be willing to stand up for what is morally right. So many leaders rationalise about their decisions and actions. Yet there are no degrees of integrity. Either you have integrity or you do not.

Interesting that ethics world-wide has disappeared since the 1990s. We live with the result: a drastic increase in fraud, corruption, price fixing, tax evasion, etc. It would seem that we are at a stage where it is time to return to what is morally correct. The world is shouting out for ethical leadership.

Free societies can only function effectively when there is a strong ethical foundation. And this foundation begins with us as individuals in our daily lives.

If you are keen to differentiate yourself as an ethical leader you may choose to consider business coaching.

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Posted in Leadership, Values.