Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Be a Proactive Ethical Leader

Ethical leadership specifically includes social influences including “personal interactions and interpersonal relationships & the promotion of such conduct to followers through communication, reinforcement, and decision-making” (Brown, Trevino & Harrison, 2005, p.120). Ethical leadership practices make them proactive not reactive. The following are tips for becoming an ETHICAL LEADER.

1.Talk about your expectations. For example, discuss how you would expect your direct reports to behave if they knew about insider trading or even damaging gossip within the work group. Setting these expectations early and reviewing them often allow others to know what to do if issues arise.

2.Follow Through: Leaders that set up codes of ethics or policies but do not enforce them are more detrimental than not having a policy in the first place. So stick to it and enforce the rewards and punishments as planned.

3.Model Behavior: Our research indicates that the majority of employees are in Kohlberg’s cognitive moral development stage 2-3 indicating that they follow social and group norms more than anything else. Thus, modeling ethical behavior can directly influence the individuals and groups below you to behavior in an ethically congruent manner.

4.Look around You: Our research illustrates those individuals with high emotional recognition and regulation or the self and others (Factors are taken from the MEIA) are more likely to recognize if an ethical issue is present. So stop and think about your own and others emotions and feeling.

* Participants were 220 full-time, executives in a retail-focused multinational corporation. The participants were: incumbent senior level executives. 56% male, mean age of 41(range 30-60). Forty two percent of the participants managed 1-3 employees, 28% managed 4-6, nine percent managed 7-9, and 22% of the participants managed ten or more employees. Participants were located in US offices including New York, Madison, L.A. and St. Louis. Approximately half of the participants (54%) had previously taken a course in business ethics and 100% reported English as their primary language. Executives were assessed on Ethical Recognition, Personality traits, Emotional Intelligence, Cognitive Moral Development and General Mental Ability.

**Other great resources in the following articles. Tett, R. P., Fox, K. E., & Wang, A. (2005). Development and validation of a self-report measure of emotional intelligence as a multidimensional trait domain. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, 859-888. Trevino, L. K. (1986). Ethical decision-making in organizations: A person-situation interactionist model. Academy of Management Review, 11, 601-617. Trevino, L. K., & Brown, M. E. (2004). Managing to be ethical: Debunking five business ethics myths. Academy of Management Executives, 18, 69-81.

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