What are Leadership Ethics?
Leadership and Ethics
"A great leader's courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position."
—John Maxwell, Author, Speaker and Pastor
Leaders are visionary people with foresight to guide and influence people towards accomplishment of goals. They have the ability to inspire and empower subordinates to develop objectives and strategy in the attainment of goals. Leaders are noted by their passion, maturity, personality, integrity and character. Honesty and Fairness are an attributes highly valued by their subordinates.
Leading by example is the best approach to management as it sets high standards of excellence and serves the greater good. It is imperative a leader accepts responsibility and accountability of organizational goals, and he or she must focus on the strengths needed to achieve success.
As one can see, a leader has a broad scope in leading by example. Although it would be highly effective to possess all the qualities mentioned above, it is not likely a leader will have them all. Theories state that leaders are born and not created, however, there are certain traits a leader must hold in order to lead well. This article will cover the importance of leading by ethical standards in decision making.
Nothing so conclusively proves a man's ability to lead others than what he does from day to day to lead himself. —Thomas J. Watson, IBM
The minute you make up your mind that what you do makes a difference, it will make a difference in what you do. —H. G. Gelatt
Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing. —Albert Schweitzer
The integration of one's personal principles and professional voice is what brings strength, passion, and power of persuasion to leadership. —Linda Espinosa
Morality is the best of all devices for leading man kind by the nose. —Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher
Resource On Leadership Ethics
Leaders are under the scope of those around them as they lead towards goals. Unless a person's leadership inspires others to follow, they may be leading a silent marching band. They have followers but the people are not participating, nor do they carry the team flag before them.
A leader must influence others to follow, and people only follow leaders who demonstrate character and inspire. The work environment is established upon leaders who are ethical and lead with good intention.
The following traits are marks of good leadership:
- Character —subordinates see a person who has strong faith and is trustworthy.
- Servitude —a good leader places the interest of others before his or her own.
- Competence —the ability to complete a job and to produce results.
- Fair —sticks to policy, plays by the rules, is open-minded and listens well.
- Honesty —always presents the obvious, what is true and doesn't misrepresent the facts.
- Caring —compassionate towards others, forgiving and demonstrates kindness.
- Respect —considers others feelings and thoughts, treats others with great respect.
- Community Oriented —gets involved in the local community, also helps to develop community in the workplace.
Ethical Leadership Advice
Ethical Decision Making
Every time you make a choice, you choose your character. — Unknown
Each semester I begin my class on ethics sharing the basic definition, "ethics is knowing what is right and wrong, but choosing to do what is right" with my students. Ethics is having good intentions based upon appropriate values, morals and principles useful in guiding our decisions. As a leader one must possess the ability to make ethical choices after analyzing facts, consulting with wise mentors as needed and then taking action. Developing a reliable method for decision making helps establish a pattern for success. The chart that follows is one I recommend to my students as a standard for leadership with excellence. If you can check off each step with positive results, then you are making a morally good choice.
Asking yourself these questions will help to eliminate what is inappropriate and to choose what is ethically good.
Is it fair? Is your choice one that does not take advantage of others? Is it open-minded and allows for the consideration of another point of view?
Is it legal? You must check resources to ensure your decision is not breaking any law or regulation. Nothing is worse than leadership that is deceptive as it will lead to mistrust from subordinates.
Can I sleep at night making this decision? Is your decision one that will allow you peace of mind? Can you honestly say that it was the right thing to do on behalf of others?
Will this become a standard? If this is followed through, will it become the norm for subsequent issues? And, if it does become the norm, will it lead to harmony for the greater good?
Can I explain it to my mother? Would you be able to sit down with your mother, or father, or grandparent, or even your child to share your decision without guilt or shame? If it were posted in the morning paper would you be proud of your decision?
Do you believe leadership ethics are intrinsic; they only come from within?
A Model for Leadership Ethics
Those who have served will gain an excellent standing. —First Book of Timothy (NIV Bible)
Leaders of excellence expand their morals to include universal truths that motivate others to respond. They hold an image of competence earned by successfully communicating their message. By listening to others, they know who they are leading and in turn know how to empower to accomplish goals.
According to John Maxwell, Leadership Consultant, leaders should be committed to excellence, never settle for average, pay attention to detail and perform with consistency. I would add hard work and discipline to the list. Working with persistence gets the job done, even if it requires working long hours some days. The do-it-now attitude will build an attitude of consistency and eliminate procrastination damaging to work and personal life.
What I have always admired in leadership is the ability to admit when a mistake is made. Dale Dauten, Business Management Columnist, states, "Being wrong is underrated. Admitting you were wrong is wisdom gained." Followers respect a leader who is honest when it is difficult to admit an error and it falls short of reaching a goal. Courage is a strong quality and indicates strength of character.
Lastly, a person who honors their commitments is worthy of leadership. Their ethical belief of obligation connects them to subordinates who will engage in their own role with enthusiasm and passion to produce results.