February 22, 2017 1 Comment
By Linda Fisher Thornton
Ethics has a compounding effect on culture, and our leadership choices determine whether that effect will be positive or negative. Being diligent about ethics in every decision brings the culture ethics dividends. Being careless about ethics brings ethics penalties.
The tricky part about managing ethical culture is that every leader decision and action throughout the organization is changing the equation. The culture equation is changing in real time, every day.
Take a look at this hypothetical scenario that demonstrates the importance of one choice:
Every Decision Changes The “Ethical Culture Equation”
+1 Make ethics a priority
+1 Discuss the personal, legal, interpersonal, societal and planetary aspects of doing the right thing
+1 Generate an ongoing dialogue about ethical grey areas
+1 Prepare people to make good choices
+1 Build ethics into training. employee development and coaching
+1 Screen for ethics when hiring
-6 Promote a leader who gets good results but is interpersonally toxic (This simple mistake disengages the 6 positive messages above and the culture dividends you would have reaped from them)
If we overlook ethics when we make even one people decision, we may “actively undo” many of the positive culture-building actions we’ve taken. All it takes is one short-sighted leadership decision to weaken the organization’s ethical performance system and send the message that “ethics matters, except for this time.”
The ethical equation has to be consistently positive to help prevent ethical problems. We must actively demonstrate the ethical values that we say are important. Every time. Without Fail. Period.
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