Corporate culture functions in an atmosphere of rivalry. Every line worker competes to become a manager, every manager competes to become an executive, and every executive competes to dominate their industry. Cash is king in this vicious cycle of survival, and it stands as an unspoken rule that the only sacred virtue in business is the bottom line. In the face of these conditions, it should surprise no one that leaders are often susceptible to unethical business practices in the workplace. Ruthless corporate culture has an ironic way of financially rewarding productivity even when it happens at the expense of virtue.

It’s Never Worth It

It doesn’t matter what the context or the stakes are, violating ethics for the sake of business is always accompanied by one universal risk – injury to others. This injury could be emotional, it could be financial, or it could even be physical. Nonetheless, if a decision to pursue a specific course of action intentionally compromises the health and well-being of another person, no amount of profit can possibly justify it. This is why ethical leadership matters. Humanity’s duty to do right by one another is defined and illustrated by leaders. Furthermore this duty supersedes any possible justification for financial gain from corruption. To quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “The time is always right, to do what is right.” And doing what is right, especially as a leader, should be instinctive, not selective. Here are three central concepts of ethical leadership.


1.       Walk the Walk

Ethical leaders understand one fundamental truth; that is, actions speak louder than words. Ethical leadership begins with sincere intent and ends with deliberate follow-through. Because leaders are expected to set an example for others, when a leader is seen and understood to be ethical, the example said leader sets for their followers is that of Integrity. Don’t be the type of leader who just says what is right. Be the type of leader who does what is right.


2.       Practice Accountability

When a leader is only answerable to themselves, there is nothing to stop them from crossing ethical lines aside from fleeting personal scruples. The more responsibility a leader has, the more imperative it becomes for them to have checks and balances against their capacity to make influential decisions. Being accountable means being able to justify judgment as a leader if, and when, the need should arise. Ethical leaders should always exercise legitimate transparency with the people whom they serve.


3.       Stay Grounded

One of the easiest things to do in professional environments is lose sight of the fact that business is fundamentally about people. Just think about how many euphemisms are used to refer to people in this context. Business habitually labels people as: Clients, Consumers, Users, Employees, Customers, Buyers, Staff, Personnel, Workers, Recruits, Interns, Laborers, Patrons, Shoppers, and the list goes on. Allowing the formality of business to dehumanize those you interact with makes it easier to make decisions that either work against their interests or directly cause them harm. A leader who never forgets the humanity of their colleagues or subordinates is a leader who is more likely to treat others ethically.

Ethical leadership is all about exercising will. It demands fully embracing a continuous initiative to achieve the greatest possible good for the greatest number of people. Ethical leaders understand that their judgement should be of benefit to those they serve not just substantially, but in the long-term as well. Check out more of RISE Programs’ Blogs for helpful advice on leadership, and remember to spread the word by sharing this post. If you like what you just read from our blog, you’ll love the various informative workshops and events listed on our website and social media. Whether you’re interested in personal development, or overall improvement of your business, give us a ca! ll at 1 (888) 823-7757 to find out how RISE Programs can help you break past your daily struggles and start soaring in success.