The style of leadership formed based on ethical grounds, moral values, and strong integrity is viewed as ethical leadership.
An ethical leader always makes a decision that is “Right”, no matter if it is largely unaccepted and brings inconvenience to the company. To make “Right” decisions, an ethical leader must operate on a certain set of strong values and moral principles, both inside and outside of the office.
Ethical leadership must start by building a culture of trust, respect and fairness in which all members are inspired to exhibit befitting moral conduct that stems from a company’s ethical policy.
Ethical leaders set examples for their people themselves and expect them to follow suit. This type of leadership does not necessarily stand alone. It can be integrated into any form of management framework within the company to make sure it always steers in the correct ethical direction.
Significance of Ethical Leadership
Ethical leadership has a tremendous impact not only on the company and its employees but on other stakeholders like investors, business partners and clients as well.
Exemplary leaders, by managing and leading within the ethical boundaries ensure:
· Positive Brand Image
When a company is known for its moral grounding, it is less likely to face a moral conundrum and is always praised in the corporate world. In today’s world of fast-paced digital media, where one piece of news can destroy decades of righteous history, maintaining a firm ethical standing will promote a positive brand image.
· Productive Workplace Environment
By setting true examples of equality, justice and due appreciation, ethical leaders inspire others to follow moral conduct in all circumstances. When a workplace operates on ethical grounds, its people are motivated to bring productive results, knowing their effort and worth will be acknowledged.
· Financial Stability
With ethical leadership in power, a company is less likely to face legal issues, which can be costly. Big investors and business partners also feel confident working with an organization standing on firm ethical and moral practices, bringing financial stability.
Both employees and clients remain loyal to a company whose ethics and principles are in line with their own. When a company is socially responsible and is contributing to noble initiatives, both clients and staff feel inspired and stick around.
Characteristics of Ethical Leadership
All ethical leaders have a few shared characteristics that not only inspire people around them but keep the company moving in a forward direction, even when met by harsh challenges.
1. Justice and Fairness
The foundation of ethical leadership is based on equality and justice. An ethical leader can not afford to have favourites. Treating everyone equally despite the differences in gender, race, ethnicity, language, and general opinions is how an ethical leader gains the trust of his people. He should keep each member of the team in mind when making significant decisions.
2. Honesty and Transparency
Ethical leaders do not retreat from telling the truth and spitting facts, no matter how uncomfortable and inconvenient they may be. Their consistent stance on truth instead of polished lies is what keeps the connection between them and their employees strong. If an ethical leader gives the slightest hint of lying, he may lose his moral stance.
Respect is a two-way street; it’s earned when it’s given. No member of your team should feel that they are less valued and practically invisible in the team. As an ethical leader, your respect should extend to all members of the team equally. A significant part of this includes listening to them attentively, being open to their viewpoints and opinions, and never overlooking their concerns.
4. Leading by Example
If your words fail to convert into actions, your influence will dwindle before finally dying out. A person is more likely to imitate one’s actions than follow the commands. Leading by example is the strong way a leader can influence and inspire their team members. An ethical leader can not expect his people to follow the right direction and remain staunch on ethical codes if he himself slacks often.
5. Value-driven Decisions
When making crucial decisions, an ethical leader confirms if it sits well with the organization’s policy and accepted set of principles. In this regard, an ethical leader has to face moral dilemmas many times owing to the differences in opinions and beliefs of his people. However, ethical leadership never contradicts the values of an organization.
6. Team Building
An ethical leader realizes the importance of teamwork in achieving a common goal and works dedicatedly to keep the team together. Instead of working on a personal mission, he motivates and helps his team realize the benefits of achieving objectives for the whole team.
7. Encourages Innovation
Because ethical leaders see the potential for improvement and admire novelty in the way things are conducted, they are not just open to new ideas but reward the people for speaking up and taking the initiative. Employees find a huge potential for their growth under ethical leadership and do not feel threatened by challenging the way of things.
An ethical leader knows that most employees are putting their best foot forward and let go of minor glitches along the way. He treats humans as humans and not as machines to push them to the point of burnout. An ethical leader is kind and compassionate with his people.
Ethical leaders always keep the door of communication wide open. He does not hide away behind several secretaries and strict time schedules to reach him. Employees should be able to reach out to their leader with any ethical and moral problem privately if the need arises. On the other hand, an ethical leader keeps reminding his team of the moral values and principles on which the company stands.
10. Intolerant to Ethical Violations
Staying in line with their stance on justice, an ethical leader does not tolerate violations of ethical rules. He expects his team members to always abide by moral principles, even if they find it inconvenient. Anyone breaching the ethical code is punished based on the said guidelines.
Ethical leadership has a positive impact on the company’s culture, the progress of its employees and the company’s success.
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