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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. 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?
  5. 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?
  6. 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?
  7. 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?
  8. 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?
  9. What areas are non-negotiable?
    Leaders need to express what is negotiable, what is not negotiable and why BEFORE something happens.
  10. 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.

Frank Bucaro

Frank-BucaroFrank Bucaro is an ethics expert, who is a leading crusader– speaking, training and writing– on the benefits of ethics. He is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) and has been inducted into the Council of Peers Award for Excellence (CPAE) Speaker Hall of Fame.

Coming from a background in teaching, with a Master’s degree in Religious Studies, Frank’s career in business spans two decades with the message: not only is good ethics good business, it is also good for business. As an author of numerous articles on ethics and author of the book Trust Me! Insights into Ethical Leadership, Frank has developed unique and humorous insights into the challenges of taking the high road. He provides practical ideas to help with difficult decisions as well as strategies for combating the sometimes blurred lines between right and wrong.

A member of the National Speakers Association, he has earned the designation of CSP which stands for Certified Speaking Professional. This award has been earned by less than 20% of the 3800 members of NSA. He was also presented with NSA’s prestigious CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame Award for excellence and professionalism, an award currently held by fewer than 200 people worldwide.

He is President of Frank C. Bucaro & Associates, Inc. located in Bartlett, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.

A few of the organizations that have invited Frank to speak include BP, the Canadian Pacific Railway, Caterpillar, ENMAX Energy, Fiserv Insurance Solutions, Global Compliance, the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario, Merck, Talecris Biotherapeutics  and RE/MAX International.

You can reach Frank at 1-800-784-4476 or through his website Follow Frank on his blog, Ethics Shmethics, and on Twitter at @FrankCBucaro.

Frank is a monthly columnist for CCI. For a complete list of his articles, follow this link.

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