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. However, should
tomorrow's organization be content with mediocrity? When
individuals accept a leadership role, the employees they lead
expect a higher standard of values.
Recent corporate scandals have resulted in more visibility of
ethics and leadership. High profile leaders whom have been removed
from their leadership role because of unethical behaviors, for the
sake of company interest or personal gain, include Phil Condit,
former CEO of Boeing, John Rigas, founder of Adelphia Communication
Corporation, and Martha Stewart, founder of Martha Stewart Living
Omnimedia Inc. Why do some leaders take excessive measures to
achieve financial or organizational success?
Talent Management must continue to ask the vital questions. Does
the 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. Leaders in
training continue to hear "lead by example", and as training
professionals, we see the similarities to parenting. "Do as I say,
not as I do" is a phrase many of us have heard before and some of
us have said.
How does one identify the acceptable behaviors that organizations
abide by and employees live by? Employees need to identify and
adapt the appropriate behaviors that stream 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, move quickly through an organization and become the
norm. In some cases, leaders are poorly prepared for their new
roles and struggle with the transition. Training is an important
step, and like anything else in life, needs to be continuous in
order to modify the current culture or develop a new one as needed.
This involves initial training for all and refresher as required.
Human behavior requires a constant reminder of policies and best
practices through periodic publications and posting of the vision
and values as reminders of what the organization stands for.
Programs must deliver and demonstrate commitment, as well as build
strong relationships with employees, customers, vendors and
It's important to make training available to leaders by providing
classroom and technology based programs. The actual training
program needs to be robust and sustaining, which can include case
studies and real life company & industry examples on how the
organization views and handles various sensitive situations or
business concerns. The goal is to provide guidance so as to achieve
consistency and high standards in order to tune leaders into
company business practices. In addition, programs need to stay
fresh. Since business practices change over time, training plans
need to be reviewed on an annual basis to stay current and steer
leaders in the right direction. Leaders in the organization 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 direction, vision and values of the organization.
Training is the critical ingredient to achieve organizational goals
and business responsibility for the organization. Investing in
training will be dollars well spent by theorganization. Ethical
leaders are more likely to develop a culture that employees, as
well as members of society, want to be associated with. What a
leader does is far more important than what a leader says. Lead by
Sergio Chiappetta is a Program Manager at Abbott, managing
Corporate Employee Development programs for the company. He can be
reached via email at email@example.com
*Note: This is the author's original submitted article and has not
been edited for style and content by ASTD.