|The value of ethical leadership|
|Tuesday, 18 September 2012 00:00|
Ethical leadership has become a key driver for organisational performance, and corporations around the world, small or large, are increasingly anchoring their competitiveness on the development of sound ethical cultures.
This thrust is clearly in line with the adage that, “the most successful company of tomorrow will be judged by its level of commitment towards intangible assets”.
The Academic Research and Business Practices at the Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics articulates the ethical leadership concept in a deep and profound manner.
It also provides great insights on the phenomenon, knowledge which corporate leaders of today must embrace as they strive to keep their businesses afloat in this highly volatile and competitive business environment.
Becoming an ethical leader requires a leader’s commitment to critically examine one’s own behaviour and values systems, and willingness to accept responsibility for the effects of his/her actions on others and the organisation.
This means considering, and taking responsibility for the effects of your actions on customers, suppliers, employees, communities in which you do business, the public in general, etc.
Ethical leaders are known to have in common a telling sense of ethical exuberance, principles, values, and character at the heart of their leadership.
Ethical leadership means exhibiting business conduct that is above board, exemplifying purposeful organisational commitment that goes beyond mere preoccupation with profit making or accomplishing short-term financial gains for the firm to focusing on the future of the organisation.
The ethical leader’s conduct must inspire employees to achieve more for the organisation.
Ethical leadership should invoke in the employee the need to abide not just to the letter but also the spirit of company policies and rules, inspiring them to delve deeper into understanding the firm’s goals and tying this up with their own personal goals.
This means ethical leaders must understand that employees look up to them for guidance, motivation, and development, enabling them to effectively pursue organisational goals including their hopes and dreams.
Ethical leaders must lead from the front, showing all and sundry that ethical conduct is their personal project.
They must not be blinded by their own feelings of self-importance, and must not detest stakeholder scrutiny.
It is true that the stakeholder of today can now see and correctly judge how company leaders behave, which means leaders must lead with a global accountability in mind.
Besides creating wealth for shareholders, leaders should take cognisance of other stakeholder interests without which the success of the organisation cannot be guaranteed.
It is only leaders who are ethically grounded who can successfully lead their companies towards regaining stakeholder trust in businesses devastated by years of economic turmoil and the widespread breakdown of the ethics of doing business.
To become an ethical leader, the Academic Research and Business Practices at the Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics encourage leaders to commit to asking themselves the following questions.
What are my most important values and principles? Does my calendar, that is how I spend my time and attention, reflect these values?
What would my subordinates and peers say my values are? What could this organisation do or ask me to do that would cause me to resign for ethical reasons?
What do I want to accomplish with my leadership? Do I work to provide value for our customers and shareholders?
What do I want people to say about my leadership when I am gone? Can I go home at the end of the day and tell my family about my leadership, and use my day’s work to teach them to be ethical leaders?
These questions obviously put the ethics agenda on the leader’s daily work schedule, and ensure that his/her everyday contact with the company’s business is grounded on sound ethical reasoning and dialoguing.
Ethical leaders must always see the need to infuse business ethics into the firm’s DNA and the company’s definition of success.
Corporate leaders should know that if they focus on creating substantial shareholder value with due consideration of the ethics of doing so, then having a sizeable percentage of that value going into their pockets as reward for creating that value will not be out of line.
Problems surely arise when exorbitant and unrealistic executive perks are paid from little or no value created and worse still, in an operating environment that cannot sustain such excessive compensation. The time to grow ethical leadership in our organisations is surely upon us.
l Bradwell Mhonderwa is an Ethics Coach and Trainer with the Business Ethics Centre. Send feedback to email@example.com,or visit www.businessethicscentre.co.zw, or call 0772 913 875