Ethical leadership means different things to different people, but when you apply your ethics properly – and when your ethics align with those of your employees – you can become a more likeable and successful manager.
Since leadership and management quality can dramatically impact metrics such as employee engagement, job satisfaction, and employee retention, manager should do everything they can to improve their leadership skills.
In this article, we’ll cover three key rules to follow if you want to a more likeable, ethical manager.
3 Rules of Ethical Leadership that Will Make You More Likeable and Trusted
In modern business, it’s more important than ever to provide ethical and morally upstanding leadership to your employees. Regardless of their position within your organization, employees want to know that they are being treated fairly, that their leaders don’t play favorites, and that they will be rewarded for their efforts, among other things.
When that comes across, employees will be more trusting and engaged with the organization’s mission and goals.
A few outcomes of this:
- Employee productivity and performance will increase
- Employees will work more harmoniously with leaders
- Teams will function better
- Organizational performance will improve
- There will be less friction in the workplace
These are just a few of the benefits that come with ethical leadership.
However, it is worth highlighting the point that there are a number of definitions of ethical leadership – in part because different people have different ethics.
For instance ethical leadership has been defined as:
- Taking a hands-on approach with employees’ tasks
- Doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons
- Leadership directed by the respect for the ethical beliefs and values and for the dignity and rights of others
- The art of leading people and making good decisions based on a defined set of values, such as fairness and accountability
- Behaving according to a set of principles and values that are recognized by the majority as a sound basis for the common good
In short, There are quite a few perspectives on what it means to be an ethical leader. Regardless of your own viewpoint on ethics, however, there are a few steps you can take to become a more ethical leader.
1. Don’t play favorites
One of the most universal ethical rules is the Golden Rule: treating others as you’d want to be treated.
When we treat others the way we’d like to be treated – and apply this to everyone equally – then we automatically treat everyone the same.
This means, among other things:
- Holding all employees to the same performance standards
- Not allowing personal judgments to interfere with business decisions
- Doing what’s best for the organization, rather than what’s best for oneself or certain individuals
Another side effect of treating everyone equally is that it will increase trust.
Employees will be more trusting of someone when they know that the manager will treat them a certain way. If, on the other hand, managers play favorites and prefer certain employees over others, employees will be less trusting and less loyal.
2. Ensure your actions reflect your ethics
Saying that one is an ethical leader is much different than actually being an ethical leader. Treating everyone equally, for instance, is far easier said than done – managers may be closer to in-house employees than they are to part-time or contract workers, which could skew judgments and decisions.
This, of course, is a truism that applies to all morals and ethics, not just those applied in leadership.
If your actions do not align with your own ethics, then employees will trust you less because your words will not reflect your actions – and, as a result, employee performance could also decrease.
Ethics are, after all, only ethics if they are actually practiced and applied universally.
3. Align your ethics with the organization’s
Another point to consider is the fact that organizations have their own stated values, mission, vision, culture, and ethics.
Ideally, one’s own ethics should align with those of the organization.
Regardless of how well they sync up, however, one must remember that the organizations ethics are paramount. It is therefore important and necessary to find common ground between one’s own ethics and those belonging to the organization.
Beyond Ethical Leadership
Ethical leadership should be a fundamental basis for once on leadership style.
That being said, as we have seen already, there are quite a few definitions of what that means.
Since there is no universal consensus on the matter, it is perhaps best to research the matter for oneself and develop one’s own definition. With that definition in hand, you can actually apply the principles of ethical leadership and the rules set forth above.
Those guiding principles, in turn, can help you become a better leader, especially when further developing leadership traits such as:
- Data-driven management skills
- Transformational leadership
- Strategic thinking
Ethical leadership can be a guiding light for one’s own leadership style, but it is equally important to cultivate a balanced set of skills and trades in order to stay effective as a leader. Also, as with ethical leadership, those traits must actually be applied in order to generate positive outcomes in the business.The more balanced a leader is and the more leadership traits they cultivate, the more successful they will be in their career, the more employees will trust them, and the better outcomes they will generate for their organization.
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