Business leaders establish standards for their enterprises and society as a whole. Through understanding and example, they show others how to live and work in a high-tech, digital age. Ethical behavior is a lynchpin of leadership. In simplistic terms, this means doing the right things for the right reasons. An ethical corporate culture starts at the top and works its way down through the ranks of an organization.
Collaboratively, the American Library Association (ALA) and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) have created a standardized code of ethics. The framework is an ideal starting point for enterprises that desire to build an ethical culture. The key principle of the outline rests in fair treatment for all, responsibility to society and professional excellence.
Using this framework, leaders can find a balance between personal beliefs and professional convictions. This kind of philosophy is a refreshing take on corporate responsibility in a world that’s rocked by headlines detailing executive transgressions nearly every day. The following segments reveal 5 more reasons why leaders should study the ethics of information.
Reason 1: Ethical Behavior Sets an Example That Others Will Follow
By respecting others and conforming to unreproachable standards in their personal and professional lives, leaders exemplify ethics in action. These leaders are and honest when difficult situations arise. They speak candidly about organizational activities that can present a challenge when it comes to taking a moral high ground. Ethical leaders are transparent and regularly meet with groups and individuals so that enterprises and community stakeholders know that their opinions are valued and respected. These practices build trust and rapport, while allowing stakeholders to voice their concerns and share responsibility for organizational outcomes.
Reason 2: An Ethical Business Model Sets the Stage for Exemplary Performance
Leaders who are effective in maintaining ethics create formal statements that outline the values and belief systems for their respective organizations. These documents can change over time and aid enterprise staff members in navigating through ethical grey areas. This kind of documentation clearly speaks to all stakeholders, starting with the top corporate leaders and on down to front line staff members. Competent leaders ensure that all internal stakeholders are aware of this framework and know that they’ll be held accountable for complying with its doctrines. This must hold true for all, especially the most visible and powerful figures in the organization.
Reason 3: An Ethical Business Model Promotes Continuous Excellence
Adept leaders view ethics as an ongoing learning process for themselves and staff members. It’s a learned practice that affects all organizational activities. In an ever-evolving world, the definition of what’s ethical for a given situation changes, requiring stakeholders to evolve in tandem. Effective leaders champion ethics in their organizations and take preemptive steps to halt misconduct. With words and actions, ethical leaders express what virtue looks like and reward staff members that consistently conform and exceed moral standards.
Reason 4: Ethics Encourages Social Responsibility
Social responsibility is an integral part of ethical corporate behavior. There’s no shortage of accounts revealing how corporations and agencies have mishandled situations in a less than desirable fashion. Even a few of America’s most beloved institutions have faced boycotts, fines, public outcry, scorn and ridicule. When this occurs, many detractors may mention ethics in passing, but few give attention to the concept as the only viable solution for establishing a sustainable moral compass. With 1% of the population now owning approximately 40% of all wealth, its essential for leaders – especially those at top corporations – to take a stand for the global population. We are slowly seeing examples of this with the giving Pledge where many top billionaires donating their money to help the global community, but we need to see more leaders stand-up and help.
Reason 5: An Ethical Business Culture Establishes Expectations
Without proper corporate guidance, internal stakeholders do not know what’s expected of them. By outlining and sharing ethical values, leaders build rapport and trust in their organizations. Conversely, leaders who outline ethical concepts and then go against the practices that they promote may cause irreparable damage. Appropriate professional conduct is the only effective way that leaders can establish organizational principals among stakeholders who look for guidance every day. By conducting themselves properly, leaders build trust, establish their competence and make their intentions clear.
Effective leaders understand that ethical behavior is a powerful tool for influencing and guiding organizational stakeholders. By acting ethically, these professionals build trust, establish their authority and forge a path for achieving organizational objectives. With their daily actions, the best leaders in the world communicate the pivotal values of their organizations and empower stakeholders with the frame of mind for making ethically responsible decisions.