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Ethical Leadership Becoming a Dinosaur

I've previously written that "We have Lost Our Moral Compass' and 'Civility is a Lost Art.' Well, let me add Ethical Leadership to the mix.

The National Business Ethics Survey (NBES) shows that a significant amount of misconduct in organizations involves continuous, ongoing behavior rather than one-time incidents: Employees say that more than a quarter (26 percent) of observed misconduct represents an ongoing pattern of behavior. Another 41 percent said the behavior has been repeated at least a second time. Only one-third (33 percent) of rule breaking represents a one-time incident.

I've written about the importance of whistleblowing before in establishing an ethical culture. The NBES reports that about 21% of workers who reported misconduct experienced retaliation. This is way too high and brings into question the effectiveness of internal compliance programs.

Organizations need to develop programs that support whistleblowers. They should want to find out about misconduct as soon as it occurs and take corrective action. Just think of how much grief would have been saved for so many women had all the harassing men and their organizations not promoted a fear culture.

Ethical leaders strive to honor and respect others in the organization and seek to empower others to achieve success by focusing on right action. An ethical organization is a community of people working together in an environment of mutual respect, where they grow personally, feel fulfilled, contribute to a common good, and share in the internal rewards, such as the achievement of a level of excellence common to a practice as well as the rewards of a job well done. By emphasizing community and internal rewards, ethical leaders commit to following a virtue-oriented approach to decision making based on a foundation of values-based leadership.

Management expert John Maxwell may have said it best: “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” It's the showing that demands ethical behavior; for this is the only way for a leader to be labeled an ethical person. This is the only way that leader engages followers. This is the only way to improve the culture of society.

Blog posted by Dr. Steven Mintz on March 8, 2018. Dr. Mintz as a writer and frequent speaker on ethics matters.


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