Personal Development Series: The Art of Ethical Leadership
June 14, 2017
Though being a leader is an awesome opportunity, it’s also a huge responsibility. As the saying goes, to whom much is given, much is expected. People are not only looking to you for direction, they are also looking at the consistency of your actions, your ability to empathize with others, and most importantly—your ethics and integrity.
Here are a few pointers for the leaders among you who desire to master a strong sense of ethical leadership:
In ethical leadership, actions speak louder than words
Being a good leader is about so much more than what you say or the decisions you make. Your attitude and behavior towards others will set the tone for how your entire team treats each other. People will notice and mimic to how you talk to others, from the most influential person to the least. More than anything else, your conduct in smaller issues will determine the amount of respect and credibility you have when it comes to larger issues.
The popular thing is not always the right thing
As a leader, it can be tempting to want to please the majority and be well-liked. However, exercising ethical leadership often requires going against the grain. If you are motivated by how much people like you, it will backfire eventually. You will be more apt to make decisions that are not in the best interest of your team—which may appease them initially, but will also cause you to lose favor once negative consequences ensue. Of course, you do want to take your team’s opinions into account, but you ultimately need to be able to decipher between what they want and what they need.
You must learn to see people as people
People do not care about what you think until they know you care. The best leaders are respected not because they exalt themselves above those they lead, but because they humble themselves as an advocate for the people, not a ruler over the people. It’s easy to reduce each person on your team to what value they bring to the group. However, the best leaders realize each person is a unique and complex human being outside the professional setting, with family, hobbies, talents, interests, relationships, struggles, and more. The best employees are those who feel valued and appreciated. Fostering a positive and respectful environment brings out the best in everyone.
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