If you can’t trust people with your mother, we are in trouble! My 74-year-old mother was in the market to buy another car. She finally bought it at a used car dealership (mom n pop). They convinced her that this used car (PT Cruiser) was great!
In a few days, the car had problems. She took it back to the used dealership; the owner told my mother she had purchased bad gas. Eventually, my mother took it to an independent car repair shop. The computer was dead! To date, the used car dealership has not returned any of my mother’s calls.
Situations like this undermine the public trust in human beings. We have become cynical of our leaders, public or private. With the number of high profile scandals with government officials and business executives, many people would describe ‘ethical leadership’ as an oxymoron. Can you have ethics and leadership side by side?
Denis Collins, author of Business Ethics, further explains, “Subordinates are constantly evaluating the ethics of a manager’s decisions and behaviors. Actions speak louder than words.” Therefore, any meaningful ethic program must start with senior management behavior.
Trust is the foundation of any meaningful corporate structure. Gareth Jones and Jennifer George, management experts maintain that when leaders are ineffective chances are good that workers will not perform to their capabilities.
Mark Johnston and Greg Marshall, authors of Relationship Selling, further suggest senior management style (do their actions match their words), the established culture of the organization and external forces can create a climate where unethical or even illegal behavior is tolerated. Therefore, senior managers should lead the way by example.
Furthermore, organizations must evaluate their current corporate culture. There are both written and unwritten rules and behaviors that come into play. For example, Enron senior management demonstrated a lack of moral and ethical judgment that played a critical role in its decision-making (i.e. breaking laws).
Enron in the boom days of the late 90’s
In addition to analyzing an individual’s personal behavior, individuals need to analyze the organization’s leadership and culture climate to see the big picture. Therefore, ethical leadership becomes an essential ingredient for making a highly effective organization.
State your professional experience with ethical leadership or lack of.
© 2013 by Daryl D. Green