It is becoming increasingly important that leaders be proactive in their approach to the ethical considerations of their roles, power and influence on their people and respective organizations.
Here are few questions to help at least start ethical reflections on leadership and perhaps launch more in-depth discussions on the roles of leaders when it comes to ethics.
- What are the areas of acceptability?
Leaders need to be clear what is acceptable, what is not acceptable and why in dealing with protocols, attitudes, approaches and processes.
- Where do we need to clarify our mission and values to make it clear that we are an ethical organization and that ethics are not negotiable?
How often is your code of ethics reviewed, updated, etc?
Clarification is integral to transparency. So what vehicles are used to make transparency the norm?
- What specific ethical behaviors are required of all leaders?
How is this proactively communicated? How often?
Is this part of the ongoing leadership development training?
- What are the consequences if leaders don’t behave ethically?
Are these explained prior to any unethical behavior occurring, so that one could say that “they didn’t know?”
Are the consequences administered immediately? If not, why not?
How are these situations and consequences communicated to the organization?
- What situations do people encounter that could lead them into gray areas?
How are you identifying these situations? Who are you asking?
Have you taken a proactive approach to prevent or limit these types of situations from happening?
- How should gray areas be handled?
Who handles this process (e.g. ethics officer, ombudsman, ethics committee, etc.)?
How is this process communicated to the organization?
- How should people make decisions when they encounter difficult situations?
Are your people trained in ethical decision making?
How is this reinforced?
Is there a “process” that has been communicated to be followed when a difficult situation arises?
Who or what has the final authority over the decision-making process?
- Where might leaders fall into gray areas while implementing goals and values?
Gray areas are the testing ground for one’s values.
Gray areas are not usually a right vs. wrong scenario, but a right vs. right scenario. So how are the leaders trained to deal with this issue?
- What areas are non-negotiable?
Leaders need to express what is negotiable, what is not negotiable and why BEFORE something happens.
- How can we more effectively recruit, recognize and retain ethical leaders?
What pre-hiring resources, tools, etc. are there to help “choose right” the first time?
When people feel like they belong and receive recognition, you get cooperation, loyalty, trust and retention. So what are you doing to help your people feel like they belong and are recognized for their contributions to your organizations?
Thanks to Linda Fisher Thornton for her original article as my reference.