How ethical a leader are you?

While on holiday in Thailand recently, I read John Davy’s book, titled “Would Your Boss Punch You In The Face”. I highly recommend it. Davy offers some great stories and insights about his journey of growth and development.

IMG_0178In his book, Davy touches on ethical behaviour. He asserts, and I agree, too many people lead the lives that others choose for them, or lead their lives to the exclusion of the needs of others. I agree and would argue that leaders and followers are interdependent. Hence the need for ethical behaviour, both ways.

In this post, I explore common failings in leaders’ approaches,  and how best to respond yourself when faced with stressful, and unethical situations and behaviour.

Key Failings

For many bosses, their role is just about progression. What fuels their quest for progress are ego, a lust for power and accolades, and greater monetary reward. Their primary tool in their advancement is dishonesty – they lead unethically to progress.

Research, conducted by OnePoll for the Chartered Management Institute in 2013, revealed that 29% of bosses polled admitted ditching their ethics to advance their careers. Workers surveyed only 13% for the same practice.

41% of leaders agreed that job progression was more important than leading ethically. And a staggering 80% of workers polled said their bosses were unethical. Even worse, 66% of managers admitted to portraying an image of ethical behaviour, while lying behind that masquerade.

I have seen little evidence since 2013 to suggest this issue has improved significantly.

How Best To Respond?

In my experience, when faced with an unethical colleague or, worse still, boss, there are some things I would advocate.

  1. Stay focused on your core principles – these are the values that define you and by which you should live your life. Set and maintain that example whatever life brings you.
  2. Focus on what you love about the work you do, and enhance those aspects of your job. Refine and refresh your knowledge, skills and understanding, as this will prove helpful for now and the future.
  3. If you lead a team, ‘walk the talk’ and set a good example. Demonstrate the ethical ways by which you want people to achieve.
  4. Provide regular feedback to all those you engage. Do so in a positive way which further embeds the ways you expect people to behave.
  5. If you are part of a team with an unethical boss, learn to ‘manage upwards’. To do this, you need to:
    1. Get to know to know your boss’ primary motivations and use language with them that resonates with their core values, concerns and priorities.
    2. Counter-intuitively as it might seem, make them appear successful, and work around their weaknesses. To do otherwise, would be very destructive for you personally.
    3. Maintain your integrity, as your personal brand, what you are known for in and outside of your team, depends on it.
    4. Be prepared to speak up, as well as listen actively.
    5. Not be intimidated by a bully, and be ready to stand up for yourself.
    6. Try 6, if all else fails.
  6. Take a step in the right direction. Don’t wait for others to do it for you, as that is unlikely happen. It may mean changing your job. Remember, life is too short to stay with stuff you hate. Just do some research before you jump!

[Tweet “Great people have great values and great ethics. – Jeffrey Gitomer”]

I am always willing to listen and ready to help. Please reach out to me if you feel I might be of assistance. I love to engage in meaningful dialogue, and I’d appreciate your connection.

Thank you for reading.




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