New Year’s Resolutions: ethical leadership


Is today’s business culture as cynical as the media would have us believe? Is it run by fat cats endorsing an end justifies the means philosophy, meaning anything goes as long as their business get its intended result: profit.

Do you also subscribe to these beliefs or do you want to do something different? Do you aspire to creating an organisation with deeper beliefs, beyond money, with a focus on social contribution and meaningful employment?

If YES to the above, you are not alone. Many of today’s leaders are choosing ethical leadership over cynicism, putting the organisation first before their own gain.

So how are they doing this? What are the qualities of an ethical leader?

Good leaders display certain personality traits that are common across cultures and history, which include:

  • Intelligence
  • Imagination – compelling vision of the future
  • Trustworthy – display unshakeable integrity,
  • Action orientated
  • Resilient when faced with setbacks
  • Respectful
  • Courageous – risk taking and the daring to defy popular opinion

Ethical leaders share a well-developed set of ethical principles, allowing them to set a consistently good example for others to follow. This good example trickles down through their organisation and eventually become embedded in the culture and internalised by employees. This ultimately leads to a more ethical organisation.

Ethical leaders also cultivate strong teams and leaders, unafraid of challenges to their own ideas coming from within the business. They nurture talent as they know that a constant supply of talent will constantly help rejuvenate the business and keep it fresh. Stale businesses always have a limited shelf-life.

Ultimately, ethical leaders accept accountability for all business decisions and refuse to swerve responsibility, even when they aren’t directly responsible for the problem in the first place. They know that leadership isn’t a part-time commitment.