By Linda Fisher Thornton
Recently, I blogged about trends in ethical leadership, sharing 10 forces that are fueling a movement toward higher expectations for values-based leadership. Today I want to explore how those trends help explain what we are seeing in ethics events in the news. Recent headlines have described more severe sanctions than people have seen in the past, in response to ethical problems in sports, politics, business and beyond. Some people may have wondered, “Why are people now being convicted for doing the same things that others before them have done?”
Holding people accountable for ethical problems that were previously overlooked may appear on the surface to be inconsistent and unfair. But when you take a closer look at the trends, you will discover an important reason why people are more frequently being held fully accountable. It is because ethical expectations are increasing and expanding.
What does all of this mean? While everyone is still catching up with increased regulation and recent changes in ethics expectations:
There will continue to be a predictable increase in the enforcement of ethics standards across industries.
It is definitely time to move out of a “what worked before will work again” mindset and into a mindset of full accountability and increasing expectations.
Mindset of the Outdated Leader: “What Worked Before Will Work Again”
- You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. We’ll both be better off.
- This is the way we’ve always done it and we’ve never been cited for it.
- We go over the ethics codes once a year. That’s enough.
Mindset of the Ethical Leader: “Full Accountability and Increasing Expectations”
- Everyone is fully accountable for ethics, and favors are not “ethics-free.”
- Ethical violations that may have been overlooked in the past are being enforced vigorously now.
- Dealing with increasing expectations for ethics now requires intentional effort, ongoing learning and frequent conversation.
You will be hearing more about this trend toward full accountability for ethics. It’s not just a phase. It is becoming the new normal.
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For more, see the new guide book to ethical leadership future called 7 Lenses and the related 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?
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