Ethical awareness may have been considered private in the past, but it has become easier to observe in a society that is always socially connected. Since ethical reputation is a defining element in individual and organizational success, it is time that we consider ethical awareness as a key element of experience when selecting leaders for our businesses, community organizations, governments, and nations.
Our level of ethical awareness is the rock on which we build our relationships, decisions and actions. It drives our choices and how we treat others. It informs our priorities and budget allocation. It tells us what to pay attention to and how we will handle it.
But when choosing a leader, how do we know how solid that leader’s rock is in terms of ethical awareness? To find out, we need to understand the job candidate’s worldview. How does the leader perceive the world? What does the leader consider most important? What is the leader’s definition of “good leadership?”
Assessing a Leader’s Ethical Awareness
Questions to explore by interview and observation:
- How do you perceive the world and your role in it? (look for a global worldview)
- What is your definition of “good leadership?” (look for authenticity and ethical principles)
- What does ethical leadership look like to you? (look for a multidimensional understanding that incorporates responsibility to all stakeholders)
- Who do you see as your constituents? (look for pluralism and not excluding any groups or individuals)
- What is your understanding of your responsibility to your constituents? (look for an “other-focus”)
- How do you make decisions? (look for ethical decision making)
- What do you think are the hallmarks of responsible interpersonal behavior? (look for respect and full inclusion)
- How do you stay competent as the world changes? (look for a commitment to learning and growing, listening deeply to others, keeping an open mind, and searching for the truth)
We need ethically-aware leaders in every leadership role at every level. The pandemic has taught us that our well-being is in the hands of the leaders we have chosen. Choosing the most ethically-aware leader will lead to the most ethical long-term outcomes. We need to take the time to look under the rock.