Ultimately ethical awareness and decision making are important characteristics of leaders. However, many leadership development programmes focus on competence (i.e. developing specific skills such as strategic thinking) as opposed to developing a leader’s ethics and character. The business world is littered with people who were very competent but behaved extremely badly.
Leaders who visibly demonstrate ethical behaviour develop trust in their organisations. Trust leads to more effective working relationships, empowerment, individual responsibility and ultimately creates greater levels of commitment, engagement and performance.
To develop ethical behaviour, leaders need to understand how to demonstrate the importance of:
- Integrity - doing what you say you will do
- Honesty - telling the truth
- Responsibility - fulfilling obligations of your role and accepting the consequences
- Respect - recognising diversity and worth of people
- Service - contributing to the welfare of others
- Justice - adherence to moral law, fairness and compassion
- Moral courage - willingness and commitment to do what is right despite uncertainty, risk and fear
Teaching ethics can help leaders balance their personal concerns with professional and financial accomplishments.
At Developing People Ltd, we use discussions, scenarios and case studies to provide practical applications of ethics in business. This helps leaders to be more conscious of the ethics of their own business practices and to learn to assess their responsibilities as leaders and managers.