Ethical leadership an essential business practice


An Internet search of professional ethics reveals many definitions. There are codes of ethics for educators, lawyers, realtors, public officials, law enforcement, and even members of the military. A common theme is that these codes of ethics focus on the actions of individuals, and do not address ethical leadership.

Ethics are the consideration of right and wrong in the practical affairs of people. In the workplace, the leader must make the determinations of right and wrong. Employees will seek guidance, and the leader is responsible for their right and wrong actions. When creating an ethical climate, managers must keep the following in mind:

Be aware of what your employees expect of you. The manager is expected by others to behave ethically and responsibly, both personally and professionally. Set the example at all times.

Your employee’s perception of how management expects them to behave. A second set of expectations flows downward and influences the ethical conduct of employees.

As a leader, you can promote ethical behavior in your employees by:

  • Setting high standards
  • Publicizing high standards
  • Enforcing those standards
  • Tolerating honest mistakes from your employees

Employees without direct reports may think they get a pass but Paragraph 1100.2c of the Marine Corps Manual states the following:

“An individual’s responsibility for leadership is not dependent upon authority. Marines are expected to exert proper influence upon their comrades by setting examples of obedience, courage, zeal, sobriety, neatness, and attention to duty.”

Regardless of your position in the organization; become a leader. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no such thing as a ‘born leader.’ In the words of Vince Lombardi:

“Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.” – Vince Lombardi

  • Carl Hadden

    Associate Director, Florida SBDC at USF, Polk County

    Specialty: Market Research, Business Planning, Financial Analysis, Student Teams

    Carl Hadden is an Associate Director with the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida. Hadden leads a team of 12 business consultants who serve the 10-county Tampa Bay region. He is also a marketing specialist with experience in workforce development, sales, insurance, entrepreneurship and training. As general manager for a wireless phone retailer, Hadden directed the marketing, co-op advertising, purchasing, vendor relations, and human resources. He assisted in implementing a point of sales system for the wireless retailer to automate processes and minimize loss prevention. As a workforce professional, Hadden assisted McGee Auto Service & Tires to secure a partnership with the Polk County School District, which would allow mechanics to get additional training and resources to become ASE certified. He graduated from Leadership Lake Wales Class 13 in 2009. Hadden has an associate’s degree in business administration from Polk State College and a bachelor’s in marketing management from Webber International University. He is also a Certified Marketing Executive, TTI DISC Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst, TTI DISC Certified Professional Driving Forces Analyst, and a Certified LivePlan Expert Adviser.


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