The Ethical Leadership Puzzle: A Broader View
February 16, 2011 3 Comments
An Award and a Violation Do Not “Net Out” to Equal Ethical Leadership
There are companies that are winning categories in one aspect of ethical leadership (CSR, Sustainability, or Human Rights for example) and then being cited for violations in another aspect of ethical leadership (CSR, Sustainability, or Human Rights for example). The fact that this is happening illustrates the point that “ethical leadership” is broader than many companies think it is.
A Failure to Think About Ethics as a System May Lead to a Failure of Ethics
All of the aspects of ethical leadership that are now considered part of responsible business are included in a broader puzzle that is “ethical leadership” in a globally connected society. The components of business ethics are connected and interdependent, operating as a system. Focusing too much on any one of the components in isolation can lead to the neglect of ethics in another.
How Broad is Ethical Business Leadership?
Use this starter checklist to see if you are monitoring the ethics of your business broadly enough:
- ethical business mission
- respect for human rights
- use of sustainable resources
- respectful treatment of people
- ethical ingredients that do not harm
- ethical suppliers, distributors, outsourcing vendors and partners
- ethical marketing
- ethical advertising
- ethical hiring
- transparent communication
- ethical decision-making
- leadership development that emphasizes ethical leadership
- company-wide ethical leadership standards
- competent senior leadership team that models the standards
- energy-efficient, minimally polluting transportation streams
- ethical promotion, pay and incentive practices
- sustainable business practices
- minimal environmental footprint
- compliance with all laws and regulations governing your industry
- an ethics code specific to your business
Feel free to comment and name other areas of business ethics that you would add to this list…
Author’s Note: This post may be used as a discussion-starter for leader groups and leadership classes. To use it that way, have each leader read the articles in advance, then discuss what you learned when you gather as a group.
Download a Sample from the latest Leading in Context LLC eBook “Ethical Implications of How Leaders Perceive Different” at the Leading in Context Store for Digital Goods (via Payloadz.com).
Linda Fisher Thornton is Owner of Leading in Context LLC, providing Tools for Ethical Leadership. She is also Adjunct Assistant Professor of Leadership for the University of Richmond School of Continuing Studies.