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
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