Is your organization's leadership making the grade in ethical
business practices? If today's leadership were graded solely on
ethics, the majority of leaders would pass. But is just passing
Recent corporate scandals have put ethics and leadership in the
headlines. Several high-profile leaders have crossed ethical
boundaries to achieve financial and/or organizational success. How
can you prevent this behavior in your organization?
You must ask the vital questions. Does your organization have the
right leadership? Do those leaders have the necessary
talent? Are they ready? What leadership behaviors and values do
they bring to the organization? It takes more than just
establishing the words of a formal ethics program.
Employees Learn by Example, Good and Bad
Employees need to identify and adapt appropriate behaviors that
align well with the organization's identified values. By seeing
prominent leaders in an organization, public office, or society
display unethical behavior, employees and members of society
rationalize and justify these behaviors, consider them acceptable,
and bring those same behaviors and values into their own value
system. Bad business practices and unethical behavior can become
contagious, moving quickly through an organization and becoming the
norm. In some cases, leaders are poorly prepared for their new
roles and struggle with the transition.
How to Conduct Ethics Training
Training is an important step and, like anything else in life,
needs to be ongoing to modify the current culture or develop a new
one. Employees and leaders need constant reminders of policies and
best practices through periodic publications and postings of the
vision and values. Programs must deliver and demonstrate commitment
and build strong relationships with employees, customers,
suppliers, and investors.
Make training available to leaders by providing classroom and
technology-based programs. The actual training needs to be robust
and sustaining and should include case studies and real-life
examples of how the organization views and handles various
sensitive situations or business concerns. The goal is to provide
guidance to help achieve consistency and high standards and to tune
leaders into company business practices.
In addition, programs need to stay fresh. Because business
practices change over time, training plans need to be reviewed
annually to stay current and steer leaders in the right direction.
Leaders will feel supported and continue to be responsible and
ethical. Training is the key that will prepare people to make the
right decisions on the organization's behalf. Leaders need to be
able to communicate the organization's direction, vision, and
Training is the critical ingredient to achieve organizational goals
and business responsibility. Investing in training will be dollars
well spent, as ethical leaders are more likely to develop a culture
that employees want to associate with. What a leader does is far
more important than what a leader says. Lead by example.