10 Steps To Spot Unethical Leaders


Have you seen the number of scandals in today’s organizations?  Government! Business! Non-profit organizations! Religious entities! No institution is exempted.  But—followers of these organizations deserve better!

Sadly, many employees chuckle at their bosses when they lecture them about ethical behavior in their organizations (typically because their management is not…ethical).  With the continual unethical behavior patterns of several leaders, today’s workers are more cynical about their leaders than ever.  In today’s discussion, we will evaluate how to spot unethical leaders in organizations.

Ethics plays a critical role in good leadership. Ethics is defined as the code of moral principles that governs the behavior of a person or group according to what is right. Richard Draft, author of The Leadership Experience, argues “In recent years, organizations have been buffeted by massive and far-reaching social, technological, and economic changes. Any manager who still believed in the myth of stability was rocked out of complacency when, one after another, large financial institutions in the United States began to fail.”

Dr. Daft further explains that leaders at the highest management levels develop internal moral standards that can often allow them to break laws if necessary.  For many organizations, it is the proverbial “doing as I say and not as I do” for some managers. Most managers can get away with this philosophy. As businesses continue to falter and competition begins to bear down on the economy, workers are looking for leadership. However, it is virtually impossible to lead an organization if you’re unethical.

Sadly, one bad leader can be destructive to the core values of an organization. Here are some ways to identify an unethical leader:

This unethical leader…

1.Leads with a bad attitude

2.Lies to his followers and peers

3.Takes advantage of people

4.Takes personal credit for group accomplishments

5.Uses politics to gain power in an amoral manner

6.Does not focus on the common good of the organization

7.Does not support his followers

8.Displays a “double-tongued” behavior

9.Sacrifices his followers for personal gain

10.Fails to model the way for followers

In today’s competitive environment, organizations cannot afford to be led by unethical leaders. Emerging leaders cannot afford to behave unethical. People become less trusting of organizations and people. People, especially leaders, need to act in a manner that sets the example for the rest of the organization. Therefore, it can be concluded that effective leaders must be careful to stay humble and have accountability mechanisms in place so that they won’t hit any ethical mine fields. Organizations can’t afford to wait.

Can today’s unethical behavior be stopped? If so, how? If not, how can today’s organizations minimize their losses?

 © 2018 by Daryl D. Green



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