Ethics in Leadership: What Managers Should Practice

For the most part, leaders don’t intentionally seek to lead or manage others unethically. Sure, there are a few bad apples that may come to mind in high-profile, public examples. But most leaders, especially those who value growth, productivity, and success, aren’t trying to sabotage company ethics. The challenge therein is learning how to not just avoid unethical practices but to intentionally behave and lead more ethically. It’s this ethics-driven purpose that will separate the good from the great leaders. And as we head into a new year, these are the ethics in leadership trends to know.

Practicing the 3 C’s of Ethical Leadership

Today’s most successful leaders, intentional or otherwise, all tend to practice the three C’s of ethical leadership. It’s a reminder to prioritize the people of your organization and can be a great tool in realigning your leadership methods for a more positive impact on your teams.

1. Competence: No one has “arrived” as a leader. Competence means embracing a continued learning leadership style that adapts and innovates.

2. Character: This is the secret sauce you bring as an individual, and it allows you to prioritize people. Lead through a lens of positive and ethical “people-based” experiences, and you’ll always be on the right side of ethics.

3. Commitment: Keep your word and follow through on leadership initiatives, which include support, resources, incentives, and discipline.

Understanding the 7 Dimensions of Ethical Leadership

Of all the leadership “lists” out there to sift through, one common theme emerges from them all. Practicing ethics in leadership is complex, requiring dynamic management strategies and decision-making. There isn’t a cookie-cutter solution to follow. Ethical leadership, as KPMG describes, has layers and seven dimensions to be effective.

1. Clarity: Lead with clarity so teams know with 100% certainty what constitutes ethically compliant and non-compliant behavior.

2. Openness: Be available to field tough questions, guide through unique situations, and respond in an enlightening manner.

3. Enforcement: Live by the systems and procedures you create, enforcing the ethical principles and alignment you seek to impose.

4. Commitment: Be trusted and involved in a way that demonstrates your commitment to your teams, ethics, and the company.

5. Role-Modeling: Lead by example and model the behavior you expect from others to build a more connected bond of mutual respect among your teams.

6. Achievability: Don’t expect the unachievable, and set S.M.A.R.T. goals that you and your employees can achieve.

7. Transparency: Engage in a way that others can witness and understand your (and their) impact of actions/decisions on others.

Emerging Ethics in Leadership Trends for 2024

Of all the emerging leadership trends to note for 2024, prioritizing ethical decision-making may be the biggest. Corporate responsibility and building inter-organizational trust among teams should be a leadership practice goal. Ideally, look for methods and actions that foster an environment where employees feel like stakeholders of the company.

As a business owner, manager, or company leader, practicing ethical leadership is a must. It’s how you can grow your teams and create a positive and productive company culture. Keep these insights in mind as you carve out your leadership strategies for 2024, and connect with us at Ethical Advocate when you’re ready to leverage the many benefits of an ethics hotline within your organization.