Friday, May 23, 2014

ethical leadership

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending the 12th annual Ethics in Business and Community Awards luncheon sponsored by RecognizeGood and benefiting the Samaritan Center for Counseling and Pastoral Care here in Austin.  Concordia University Texas, and especially its College of Business, has been involved with this event for 10 years and recently has become a partner in making the event happen.  As I watched the 12 finalists be introduced and listened to the five recipients of the awards, I kept thinking about what it means to be ethical in our daily lives and behavior, especially in leadership roles and positions.  I am reminded of Lord Acton's statement that "power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely," with a reminder that with power comes great responsibility.

The people who were recognized yesterday - and the organizations they represent - are all very powerful.  Each of us has the ability to have (or take) power on a regular basis, whether it be a result of our position or our demeanor...and let me just say that I would encourage you to take that power.  With great power does come great responsibility...a responsibility to make things happen for the common good...and to do so in an ethical manner.

So what does ethical leadership look like?  How does one know that they are actually leading in a way that is ethical?  While I would never hold myself out as an expert on ethics (I will leave that to my friend and colleague Dr. Carl Trovall), let me offer these few thoughts:

  • ethical leadership considers the quiet or oppressed voice when making decisions
  • ethical leadership asks more questions than has answers
  • ethical leadership is never ashamed of its decisions
  • ethical leadership is consistent - and when it does not look consistent is willing to explain why
  • ethical leadership is transparent in a way that allows others to trust the decision making process
  • ethical leadership does not allow unethical behavior among others
  • ethical leadership asks the question of how decisions might impact those who are closest to the living out of those decisions (aka subsidiarity)
  • ethical leadership is often described as caring and compassionate (even when an action might not seem so)
  • ethical leadership is always balancing the good of the organization with the good of the individual
  • ethical leadership will consistently provide a WHY for its decisions
  • ethical leadership looks around the rooms and asks the question of who is not present that should be
  • ethical leadership ensures that values are stated, talked about, upheld, and used in the decision making process
  • ethical leadership invites all voices to the table - and listens closely to those voices that are different and seemingly negative
  • ethical leadership upholds those act in an ethical manner to others, and raises them to levels of leadership so that the organization continues to think and behave in an ethical manner
That's my take on the day after being immersed in ethical discussions (both at the lunch and in other settings).  My advice is to think deeply about this and then read on the topic, beginning with a great anthology entitled Ethics: The Essential Writings, a compendium of great minds considering this important topic, especially among those of us who are known as and called leaders.  

1 comment:

gmoore said...

glad to see things continue to move along with the EIB....