If you have the responsibility of leading and influencing others, it’s important that you remain aware of the impact you have on them in the area of integrity and ethics. Employees who see ethical behavior modeled by their manager or supervisor are more likely to act in kind. Additionally, employees who rate their leader as “ethical” typically have greater job satisfaction and higher levels of commitment.
Here are 10 guidelines for ethical leadership, along with corresponding action steps to help you put the guidelines into practice:
- Build ethics awareness through regular communication and discussion of your shared values, operating principles and ethical standards. Action Step: Have you determined your organizational values or does this need to be done? How do/will you make them public?
- Lead by example. Don’t expect others to perform with integrity if you aren’t “walking the talk”. Action Step: What more can you do to visibly demonstrate your commitment to ethics?
- Hold yourself and others accountable for ethical behavior, and have zero tolerance for violations. Action Step: Jot down a few specific actions you’ve recently taken (or not taken) that confirm your commitment to ethics and organizational values. Do the same for your key employees.
- Use the organization’s stated values to make both large and small decisions – remember that ethics is displayed in everything you do…and everything you do counts. Action Step: Ask — do employees know to run decisions past our list of organizational values? Do they have the tools to do it?
- Pay close attention to perceptions, feelings, opinions and reactions of colleagues, employees, customers and everyone in your circle of influence. Remember, perceptions are reality when it comes to integrity. Action Step: Find new ways to keep abreast of how others see you and your organization on matters of ethics and integrity.
- Take the time and invest in the resources to give employees the confidence and specific skills they need to translate ethical beliefs into ethical behavior. Action Step: Assess what is currently being done to give employees the ethics skills and awareness they need. Is more training required?
- Ensure policies and procedures at all levels are in-sync with organizational values. Action Step: Starting with your own department, determine if the rules and standards by which people do their jobs reflect what the organization strives to be, ethically.
- Focus on steady, incremental change. Action Step: Remember that quick fixes can cause trouble. In the long run, you’ll be more successful with continual small improvements across many key areas of the organization; be sure to put together implementation plans and monitor results.
- Hire and promote ethical employees. Action Step: Do a quick review of your hiring and promotion practices and policies. Do they reflect your ethics?
- Recognize and reward the ethical behavior and values-driven actions of others. Action Step: How can you recognize and celebrate those employees who support the organization’s values?
Content excerpted from the Ethics 4 Everyone – Leadership Segment video and Leader’s Guide (©CRM Learning, 2003).