If you want to set up an ethical culture among your employees, where no one feels justified in lying to get things done within or outside the workplace, where trust is the foundation of team work, where "policing" is redundant and productivity is high, owing to the feel-good factor generated among the employees of your company, then becoming an ethical leader becomes a priority.
How to Be an Ethical Leader?
Look at your employees as stakeholders and not as use-and-throw-away commodities for promoting and achieving the company's goals. Here are a few points that you need to focus on if you want your employees to behave in an ethical manner at work:
- Treat employees with respect and ensure that those in leadership positions do not abuse their powers.
- Make promises only when you can keep them, especially when it is regarding promotions, pay or a salary raise.
- Be sensitive when layoffs have to be done. You are terminating people, not eliminating overhead.
- Encourage ethical behavior in and outside the workplace. Let the company's rules, way of doing business, and means of expansion all reflect ethics.
- It is not always easy to identify wrong from right. As a boss, as a leader, set an example for your employee by behaving morally right at all times. Bending a rule here and there to get something done tells your employees, "It is okay to lie, cheat, and steal sometimes, as long as you get to the right end." It is NOT. Let your employees know and internalize that there is no right way to do a wrong.
- Reward honesty wherever you find it outstanding. Make people feel proud that they are able to follow their moral compass. This will gradually nurture an ethical culture within the company.
- Counsel those who feel that a certain amount of bending rules is okay when they are climbing the ladder to success. Encourage them to do the right things in the right way.
- Encourage employees to raise questions about ethics within the company. Unless they feel they are part of a company which plans to grow ethically, they will not fully embrace ethical behavior in their work.
- Loyalty should be obvious and expected both ways, i.e. employer to employee and employee to employer.