“Organisations which are truly on a mission, led by passionate leaders who bring their employees, suppliers, and customers on the journey, are the most successful,” – (Mark Allen, CEO of the TAG Accountants Community)
Gone are the days, where the boss rules the employees with a hammer hand and uses fear as the primary tool for people management. With Personnel management moving more towards Human resource management, organizations have given more emphasis on maintaining a more conducive culture and making the office a better place to work. As a result, work based on values, ethics, environment, has taken the center stage. Out of these concepts, having an ethical culture in the organization has been given new meaning for the employees to carry on with their work with a happy heart.
An ethical culture encourages what is right for the organization than who is right. Also, it provides a clear, sensible direction for the employees to strive for success. Further, having an ethical culture or ethical climate is important as research repeatedly demonstrates the business case for taking ethics and culture seriously, with improved employee morale, higher staff satisfaction and retention, reduced costs, increased productivity, reduced risk, and enrich organizational commitment, being some of the main benefits.
Ethical leadership is defined as “leadership that is directed by respect for ethical beliefs and values and for the dignity and rights of others.” Thus, it is mainly concerned with moral development and virtuous behaviour. Therefore, ethical leaders will always be mindful of their actions towards their team members as it reflects his values and how much he cares for the dignity of his team members. An employee who feels cared for is more likely to give his/her 100% for the betterment of the organization.
Ethical leaders always put ethics at the heart of everything they do and are naturally guided by moral principles such as honesty, integrity, and fairness, thus empowering people who are around them to act in the same manner. Thereby building a culture of doing the right thing throughout an organization. This way, the leaders set a good precedent, for the subordinates to follow.
Being “Doing the right thing, even when it hurts” ethical leader’s mantra they always do the right thing even if it means to make decisions that may be unpopular.
How to become an ethical leader who will create an ethical culture? The following are a few tips:
“Doing the right thing, even when it hurts”
Promote Transparency / Open Communication
Do you have an open-door policy when it comes to discussing concerns your team is facing? Do they feel comfortable to come and talk to you if something were concerning them?
Ethical leaders make sure their team knows that they are always available for a chat. They promote a culture where employees are encouraged to ask questions, challenge decisions, and speak up without fear of retaliation. The employees should feel a sense of genuineness and honesty on the part of the leader, for them to open up and speak freely. If the employees feel that the open-door policy is a name-sake one, it would serve no purpose.
“An ethical organization is one in which there is a culture of listening,” Mark Allen the CEO of the TAG Accountants Community said. “You are working towards common goals, and listening and understanding is more valuable than dictating.”
When decisions are made which affect your people, always make sure to be open about the reasons and implications. Downplaying the impacts or making vague excuses will likely lead to resentment and a negative culture going forward. In case if there is an ethical lapse in a team trying to cover this up can be harmful. Instead, talking about what lessons can be learned is the quickest and most effective way to rebuild the lost trust. If the employees feel that they are not told the whole story, or if they feel they are being presented with excuses, they will lose morale and will not give their 100%. In today’s day and age, employees have more access to information and they sure to find out the actual reasons sooner or later. Further, there is a higher chance that the employees will accept the situation if they feel that the management is sincere.
Lead by Example
People follow leaders they find inspiring and at the same phase they tend to lose trust quickly in leaders they don’t believe in. If you say all the right things but your words are found to be empty, you will quickly find people stop listening.
“To effectively lead, the ethical leader walks the line he or she wants others to follow,” said Heather R. Younger the founder of Customer Fanatix. “Leading by example is the best way to ensure ethical business.”
By setting a clear example and acting as a role model for ethical choices and ethical decision-making, you inspire people to follow you and begin to raise their standards, expectations, trust, and performance. Where leaders behave unethically, this can lead to people throughout the organization seeing this as acceptable and follow suit. A leader appearing to be ethical, but being the opposite is detrimental in order to maintain an ethical culture in an organization.
Find Your Role Models
There are many leaders out there, think about the leaders who have inspired you, and learn from them. Look how they have stood up for what is right without wavering and has made the morally right decision no matter how hard it was.
Avoid Bias & Prioritise Fairness
As human beings, many of us have beliefs, subconscious or otherwise, which could be outdated or erroneous. Most of the time leaders do not like to admit that they could be wrong, but not practicing self-awareness can lead to detrimental consequences. This could affect their organizations negatively.
Hence, without being close-minded push yourself to seek out different opinions. Make sure everyone on your team is included in the conversation and is comfortable with participating fully and sharing their opinion. Let the team feel that their opinions are valued. Demonstrating that you are there for every member of your team and that you value all viewpoints can go a long way to creating stronger teams.
It is important to make sure that you never show favouritism, as this can lead to resentment and distrust. Instead, always act consistently and fairly.
Care for Yourself to Care for Others
One cannot pour from an empty cup, as the saying goes. The leader who is happy and content in life wants happiness and contentment for those they lead. There is a higher chance that a happy and a content employee, will give his / her 100% towards the organization, and treat its customers, fellow employees with a smile. And the trend continues.
Ultimately, the mantra “Treat others as you would like to be treated” is a good guide to follow.