Whether you are currently the manager of a business, a department head, or instead finishing up your bachelor’s undergraduate degree in business administration and management, you undoubtedly have a lucrative, rewarding, and intensely challenging career pathway ahead of you.
One component of the melting pot of skillsets, attributes, and experience that combine together to make you the type of leader you are is personal ethics and, more specifically, how you apply these ethics to your working life.
With this in mind, continue reading for a comprehensive deep dive into ethical leadership and how your perspective can positively inform how you manage.
What Exactly Is Ethical Leadership?
Ethical leadership is much more of a finite and tangible thing than it may first appear. It essentially centers around the natural and almost automatic practice of business managers and leaders always demonstrating highly appropriate conduct. Such conduct is always performed in accordance with ethically recognized values and principles both in a traditional office context and outside as well.
An ethical leader always and crucially wants to demonstrate simple and wholly moral principles at work, especially when confronted with any wrongdoings, however high up the chain of command.
How to Be a More Ethical Leader
In an effort to streamline your decision-making as a leader and bring your own personal morals and way of living your life to the workplace, concentrating on becoming a more ethical leader will serve to help you immeasurably.
There are plenty of ways to become a more ethical and, therefore, successful leader, including:
- Strive to hire employees and add members to your team with similar morals and values
- Always be aware of combating and biased actions or feelings
- Look for ethical role models in the world of work
- Care for your own emotional wellbeing so you can do the same for others
- Always lead by example and ‘practice what you preach’
- Be clear on your own morals and values at all times
One exceedingly effective way to start as you mean to go on, as it were, is to embark on a journey to higher education and take your degree qualification one step further with an MBA in business. What’s more, if you choose to study for your MBA online, you can easily fit your business and leadership studies around your current professional role.
Why Is Ethical Leadership So Important?
In business, ethical leadership is one of the most influential and indeed aspirational ways of managing a team. Plus, not only is it one of the easiest ways to run an honest, transparent, and loyal team, but it is also important for core business functions.
Following are the top nine reasons why ethical leadership is crucial in business, even more so now than ever before:
1. Ethical Leadership Encourages Better Press
Even if you are not currently working as the head of a company or indeed in a company at all, you will still no doubt be fully aware of how quickly negative newspaper articles and bad press online can affect the sales and notoriety of a business.
Immoral and even questionable management and leadership practices are the quickest way to ensure a company’s brand name and influence rapidly decline, and with the power of social media, even one bad review can seriously damage a company’s reputation.
2. Ethical Leadership Leads to a Healthy Environment
It is unavoidable, especially if you are the leader of a large group of people, that office politics and even clicks of different groups will emerge, particularly if some members of staff have been there for a long time.
Sometimes, dealing with negative and snide remarks from different groups of people, or indeed departments, against another can be hard enough to deal with; imagine if, on top of this normality, you have to deal with people constantly questioning your decisions and feeling as if no one has ‘got your back.’
An ethical leader need not worry about being penalized, either by their employees or their bosses, because of questionable behavior and immoral decision-making.
3. Ethical Leadership Encourages Customer Loyalty
Thankfully, consumers in general, not just in this country but across the world, are finally realizing their own ethical duty to be more responsible in terms of the companies from which they are purchasing and the actual products they are buying.
Due to this change in consumer behavior, it is now much more viable for a business to be actively and ethically sourcing their own suppliers and manufacturers, as conscientious customers will always choose an ethical company over an unethical one.
4. Ethical Leadership Heightens Morale
Every successful business leader knows and understands the absolute importance of investing time, money (in terms of training), and effort into ensuring staff are as happy and content at work as possible.
Furthermore, the more appreciated and valued they feel, the more likely they are to stay in their current position or even want to integrate themselves even more into the hierarchical structure of your business.
A leader with strong ethics will also hold each member of their team accountable for their actions, wins, and failures and be a motivating and inspiring role model for their employees.
Other ways to build morale within the team you lead include being as open and honest as possible and always showing recognition and praise when deserved.
5. Ethical Leadership Attracts Ethical Employees
This next point is fairly obvious, but you may well be underestimating the importance of not only having ethical employees work for you but that each member of your team holds the same values and morals as yourself.
Personality traits and skillsets that make it clear to a leader they are working with ethical employees include the following:
- People with a natural sense of duty
- People with respect for hierarchical structure and management
- People who are never afraid to stand up and speak
- People who fight for the rights of others
- People who treat their colleagues with respect and empathy
Conversely, signs that you may be suffering somewhat of an ethical collapse within your team and your company may include:
- Inexperienced or incompetent directors on the board
- A concentration on ticking proverbial boxes over real progress
- Any sign whatsoever of prejudice or discrimination
- Silence and fear
- Too much innovation and not enough improvement
6. Ethical Leadership Gives Employees Freedom
Micromanaging is one of the worst things you could possibly do to the members of your team, especially if you want to make them feel secure and valued within your company framework.
When the leader of a team sets a moral example to the people whom they are leading, this decision enables them to relinquish some of the hold and control over employee activities and empowers them to create a community of respect and trust.
7. Ethical Leadership Benefits Your Personal Life
The art of good ethical leadership will not just benefit your own professional life and the people you lead, but it will also bleed into your personal life as well.
Obviously, living an ethical life full of morality and essentially ‘doing the right thing’ as often as possible is a selfless way to lead and, indeed, a selfless way to live your life. However, it is certainly true to say that applying these ethics will serve to make you feel proud of your actions and increase your own sense of self-worth.
8. Ethical Leadership Ensures Legality
Hopefully, your company and the department in which you are in charge always strive to be as legally compliant and as up-to-date on new policies and procedures as possible.
However, often, for example, when it is time to do your quarterly audit, you probably still go through everything meticulously to check everything is in order. Once you start projecting an ethical way of leading, you can always be assured that you will have no complex and potentially expensive legal complications in the future.
9. Ethical Leadership Establishes Trust
Not only will taking the decision to run an ethical business work to expand your network of business partners and regular suppliers, but it will also serve to establish trust with partners and investors too.
Potential investors will be inspired by how you are running your company and feel confident in backing the growth and expansion of your business financially. If a business is operating immorally, on any level, whether that be reports of financial confusion or negative articles in the press, it is far more likely that a supplier will want to work with another, more moral and ethical company instead.
Practicing ethical leadership is not something that can happen overnight. Instead, it is up to you as the leader to start analyzing your own behaviors, words, and actions on a consistent basis, which can take time to effectuate.
Furthermore, always provide appropriate and thorough training to your staff with an emphasis on the ethical nature of the company, and work towards becoming an honest and open communicator while keeping in mind that actions always speak much louder than words.