How you handle the responsibilities you have marks out the type of leader you will become. And having high ethical standards is crucial, for business leaders rank it as their number 1 competency.
Practising those high ethical standards is often referred to as ‘setting a personal example’. Think about it – there’s no point expecting high ethical standards from your firm if you yourself are not prepared to lead on them by example. If you don’t, then others will take your cue and not bother either. Cue end of ethical vision.
Now you may think that setting a personal example involves little more than being the good person that you know you are. Unfortunately, much more is needed. Consider this finding from research in 2013: 80% of UK workers didn’t think that their manager set a ‘good moral standard’.
What this tells us is that executives and managers are either not setting a personal example, or as is more likely, they’re not setting it in a way that is strong enough, clear enough or consistent enough to be picked up by the people who work with them.
In this post, I’m going to set out a series of steps that everyone can take in order to deliver, in ethical terms, a better personal example. And I’ve organised them under those three headings of ‘strong enough, clear enough and consistent enough’.
There is of course more to leadership on ethics than setting a personal example, yet a lot of leadership on ethics comes unstuck because of a disconnect between what the leader says and what the leader does. Delivering a good personal example is not hard, but does require effort, to make sure it is clear, strong and consistent
Take a look at this free guide I’ve produced, called ‘A Roadmap to Ethical Leadership’, which is free to download from the ‘Guides’ section on this website.
Duncan is the founder of the Ethics and Insurance blog and the author of its many posts. He's a Chartered Insurance Practitioner, having worked 18 years in the UK market. As an adviser to many firms on ethics issues, as well as a regular conference speaker, he is one of the leading voices on ethics and insurance.