It has become too easy to criticize the unethical behavior of corporate and political leaders these days. The reality is that the most ethical human begins can fall prey to the lures of riches and abundance.
Crescentio Torres from the Center for Creative Leadership says the following: "Ethical leadership isn't about avoiding the worst behaviors. It is not about technically following laws and regulations. Ethics determines fair and honest behavior and establishes boundaries about how we relate to each other. In that sense, the only way for people to work well together, and to have a good professional and personal relationship, is to think and act in an ethical way."
There are nine aspects which produce the essence of character and we will use the word 'character' as an acronym. This edition of The Corporate Digest examines the first four aspects.
C=Clarity Be clear about things. Let others know where they stand with you. Sometimes it is suggested that it is a good things if people do not know where they stand as it will keep them on their toes. However, a lack of clarity leads to uncertainty which in turn leads to confusion. The most ethical leaders go out of their way to provide clarity to those that they work with. Clarity produces certainty which in turn leads to focus.
H=Honesty Let your yes be your yes and let your no be your no. Why do people second-guess the words and deeds of certain people and leaders? Because they are known to be dishonest. As you build a reputation, it is important to make sure that it will be a reputation of honesty. Be honest in your thoughts, words and deeds. The most important person who you need to be honest with is yourself. Once you lie to yourself, dishonesty will become the norm in all the other dimensions of your life.
A=Accountability Leaders with character know their weaknesses, know the areas in life where they are prone to temptation and they actually do something about it. They rely on accountability. They build accountability structures into their lives that help them to maintain their character. Proactively being held accountable by others is an approach that will assist in preserving character.
R=Responsibility Take responsibility. Our culture shies away from responsibility, but we need to embrace responsibility. Few people take responsibility for their own lives, let alone for their own jobs. People of good character take responsibility for their lives. They also take responsibility for their jobs, for executing tasks and for finishing what they are being paid to do. Seasoned managers will confirm that having people in their teams that take responsibility for their tasks are few and far between. You want to be known as someone who takes responsibility and does what is expected of them. Be known as someone who accepts responsibility.
Next time we'll look at the letters 'acter' of 'character'.