Ethical Leadership

Video Transcript

Do you put ethics before the bottom line?

Welcome to Mind Tools' video learning series.

When it comes to setting a good example for your team, ethical leadership is crucial. 

Ethical leaders do the right thing, at the right time, and for the right reasons. They put ethics before the bottom line. This makes it more likely that their teams will be loyal, dedicated and ethical in return.

But how can you actually become a more ethical leader?

The following six steps will show you how to hold yourself to a higher standard and put ethics into practice.

The first step is to define your organization's values. These are usually linked to its mission and vision statements

When you know these, you begin to embody them in your actions, and to communicate them to your team members.

The next step is to define your personal values. Good leaders follow their own personal values, as well as their organization's.

Think about what's really important to you. What values do you admire in others? And would you still live by these values even if they put you at a competitive disadvantage?

Next, set the tone of behavior in your team. 

People will model their behavior on yours, so how you act really matters. They'll then set an example for others, and the ripple effect will spread through the organization. 

Another way to encourage positive behavior in your team is to reward those who consistently act in line with company values. Even a simple "thank you" note can do the trick.

Next, learn how to recognize ethical dilemmas. Certain situations, like hiring, firing, and promoting, are fraught with potential ethical dilemmas. Being aware of this in advance can help you deal with problems when they arise.

And be sure to listen to your "inner voice." If a situation makes you uncomfortable, stop and think it through before proceeding.

Step five is about knowing how to deal with ethical dilemmas when they occur. 

One approach is to visualize potential scenarios in advance. In a crisis you may only have seconds to make a decision, so it pays to consider what future situations may arise, and how you'd deal with them.

Your organization may have policies in place to guide you here. But it's always wise to double-check the facts of the situation before you take any action, and to get advice if you're not sure what to do.

Finally, be courageous. Doing the right thing isn't always easy. But, if you keep calm and look at the situation logically, your instincts should guide you in the right direction.

To learn more about ethical leadership, see the article that accompanies this video.

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