To make good ethical choices, we need boundaries. The history of successful organizations tells us that the creation of ethical boundaries is the key to thriving and surviving. Leadership ethics involve a set of standards that show us behavioral norms. But acting honorably sometimes means not doing what we want to do. The right thing to do isn’t usually the easiest thing to do. Learning to say “no” when we feel like saying “yes” builds character. Creating our own personal code of ethics will enhance our leadership ethics as well.
Ethical Role Models
We learn what is good and ethical from the role models in our lives. Trusting relationships are the foundations of all ethical decisions. As leaders in organizations, we become roles models for others and need to commit in advance to a set of ethical leadership principles. Our personal ethical code defines our standards of right and wrong. It helps us resist temptation and becomes the basis for our leadership ethics.
To improve our ethical leadership skills, we need to set reasonable boundaries and have a clear purpose behind those boundaries. Communicate boundaries in a positive manner, and keep the focus on what “to do” rather than “not to do.” Give others an opportunity to contribute to the process of establishing appropriate boundaries in the workplace.
We make choices every day. Our day-to-day decisions involve priorities, efficiency, planning, and managing resources. Then, we have those decisions that involve right and wrong. Those situations are often time-pressured, emotional, and complicated, and we find ourselves with an ethical dilemma. We are often forced to make ethical choices reactively.
Ethical Decision Making
When we find ourselves in the middle of an ethical dilemma, we have to review the information, anticipate consequences, consider others, and manage our emotions. An ethical leadership tool to help guide us would be to think about the impact of the action on all of the people affected by the decision. Weigh choices and options and determine the possible consequences in the long run. If you are still unsure of what to do, go with the choice that will produce the most good for the most people.
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