In a survey conducted by LRN Corporation, a corporate ethics and compliance firm, it was concluded that being an ethical leader matters! Of the total number of respondents in the survey, 83% believe their organizations will likely make better decisions if the Golden Rule was followed and 59% believe that their companies could be more successful if their leaders showed higher moral authority.
Numerous studies on ethics in corporate leadership also show that rank-and-file employees appreciate ethical leadership from their leaders, not only because of its impact on their day-to-day operations but also because of its significant impact on employees’ morale and bottom line (i.e., profits). But according to the LRN Corporation survey, nearly 80% of the respondents employed in large companies say that their higher-ups aren’t ethical leaders!
What do employees mean when they say that they want better leaders? Judging from the results of the survey, employees want their leaders to be empathetic, as well as acknowledge their mistakes and make amends, when necessary.
What does this mean for you as a leader? You can, for one thing, strive to be a more ethical leader for your subordinates with these eight strategies.
1. Treat Your Employees Well
When your employees are relatively happy in their jobs and feel that they are being treated fairly, they have more motivation to become better employees, even have a deeper sense of ownership of their work. You should then take a closer look at the way you treat your employees, such as in expressing interest in their work, demonstrating your concern for their well-being, and maintaining an open-door policy. You must also consider the human resources policies and practices of the company and determine the need for changes, such as in granting leaves and the like.
Keep in mind that your employees aren’t just your employees, too. They are your company’s first customers, first and foremost, and your best resources – so taking good care of them means taking good care of your company.
2. Work Toward a Good Job Fit
The employee should match the requirements of the job including his or her education, experience, and expertise to ensure that there’s a good job fit; plus, it will reduce the cost of training. But go beyond these requirements! You should check that, indeed, the person you will be hiring possesses the right values for the job and for the company.
This should start during the hiring process where background checks, interviews, and personality tests are useful in making a good fit, ethics-wise. For example, if a person is applying for a job in sales, you may want to check his views and the track record regarding his credibility, trustworthiness, and integrity aside from his sales achievements.
3. Consider the Changing Values of the Times
While the core values and their definitions remain essentially the same from one generation to the next, the core values adopted by each generation tend to differ depending on the times. For example, a baby boomer’s model of an ethical leader will be different from that of a millennial because, well, there’s a generational gap brought by a wide range of factors like social mobility, technology, and pop culture.
To take the baby boomer-millennial example further, a millennial employee won’t think that conducting personal business while at work an issue because it’s quite acceptable to do so. But for a baby boomer, it would be unethical to do so. Both of them, nonetheless, will likely think that their leaders should also have the same core values as they have.
Tip: Provide ethics training to all employees since it’s a great venue for closing the generational gap in terms of shared values.
4. Be Visible, Available, and Transparent
In larger corporations, leaders are usually heard, not seen, in more ways than one. Rank-and-file employees only learn about upper management leaders from emails, news articles, and speeches, which emphasize the distance between them. Senior leaders, on the other hand, aren’t likely to mingle with the rank-and-file except during special occasions like Christmas parties.
The gap can result in employees feeling like they aren’t valued by their leaders, a case of being a replaceable part of the wheel. Fortunately, you can change it by being more visible and available to your employees – and it doesn’t even mean extra cost on your parts. You can visit the offices of your employees instead of proceeding directly to your office, mingle with the employees, and ask about their concerns, even if it’s just for an hour.
5. Walk Their Walk
You should be the role model that your employees can actually follow because you follow the same rules they do. If you require excellent results through hard work, then you should be a hard worker who delivers excellent results for your team, too. If you value punctuality, integrity, and honesty, then you should be honest, trustworthy, and punctual.
Keep in mind that your employees will be looking at you, so to speak, for cues in the way they should conduct yourself. You must then be more mindful of the example you set before them.
6. Be Accountable
Being accountable comes hand in hand with being trustworthy and transparent. If you make a mistake that affected the entire team, then take responsibility for it and make the necessary amends. Your sense of accountability will also filter down to your employees who will, in turn, feel that they don’t have to be fearful for their jobs in case they make mistakes.
Also, accountability should also mean that you can be held responsible by your employees.
7. Be Mindful of Your Social Media Activities
Yes, you want to be more visible to your employees but there’s a limit to your visibility and availability. This is all too true in the age of social media when just about everything about your life, both past, and present, can be broadcasted via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, among other sites.
Tip: Be careful about your posts on social media, especially when you want to become a role model of ethical leadership in your industry. Keep your private life private and keep your professional opinions respectful of other people’s sensibilities. This isn’t about being restricted in your freedom of speech – it’s about maintaining your respectability online and offline.
8. Make the Right Choice in Your Workplace
If you’re being an ethical leader yet your subordinates don’t seem to be, then you may be working in the wrong place or working with the wrong people. You should rethink your choice, perhaps even get out of the workplace you’re in now.
Being an ethical leader isn’t easy, that’s for sure, because of the temptations. But it’s a must if you want to enjoy self-respect!