Leadership on Ethics in Insurance

Everyone knows that leadership on ethics is important, yet knowing how to practice it is even more important. That it is often referred to as ‘walking the talk’ illustrates how a commitment counts for little without the practice. There are five components to putting leadership on ethics into practice…

  • Knowing how to speak the language of ethics
  • Setting a clear ethical vision
  • Helping your team make decisions in line with that ethical vision
  • Supporting people when they face hurdles
  • Setting your own personal example
 Many people hope that simply setting a personal example will be enough. It’s great, but on its own, it’s not enough. Each of these five steps matters.


Why do I talk about leadership on ethics, and not the more common ethical leadership? The difference is more significant than you think. What leadership on ethics focusses on is delivering leadership in your firm on ethical issues. In contrast, ethical leadership is focussed on the individual and how they themselves behave.

Sure, I want a leader to be ethical – in other words, to show ethical leadership. But what I need on top of that is for that leader to give leadership to ethics. Just as I expect that person to give leadership on strategy and on delivery. In other words, I want them to see ethics as a business issue that requires attention, status and drive.

You can think of leadership on ethics as like a sporting coach. That coach achieves the results they want through the leadership, attention and drive they give to their team. If the coach was just a good, say footballer, and not much else, their team wouldn’t achieve much. The leader on ethics achieves the outcomes from their ethical vision through how they lead their firm and its people on ethics. 


Leadership on Ethics


Why Every Insurer needs an Ethical Vision 

It’s important that leaders have a clear ethical vision, because there’s no point leading on ethics if you can’t point people in the ethical direction you want them to take. This article looks at what you need to think about for your ethical vision...   12 Steps to Building an Ethical Vision

And if you'd like help crafting or refreshing your firm's ethical vision, get in touch. 

Leaders as Decision Architects

When you bring together an ethical vision with an ethical culture, what stands out is the decision architecture within the firm. It has to be designed so as to bring that vision and that culture into alignment. Leaders need to play an active role in achieving that alignment. Read this article for more on this... Why Insurance Executives need to Think like a Decision Architect


Is Leadership on Ethics Optional?

It isn't optional, according to an interesting survey published in 2016 by the Harvard Business Review. In fact, business people told the researchers very emphatically that it is what leadership is all about. You can find out more about the survey here 


Is Tone from the Top Enough?

Leadership on ethics is often referred to as 'tone from the top'. In my opinion, it's a convenient shorthand, but little more. It is an inactive term - just 'tone'. Leadership on ethics needs to be action orientated, visible and vocal. It needs to be direct and challenging, as well as supportive and aspirational. Tone is not enough. 


Challenging the 'Setting a Personal Example' Approach

Leadership on ethics is often thought of in terms of 'setting a personal example'. And yes, it can help, but it is actually only one component of leadership on ethics. I explain why in this article...

Setting a Personal Example - why it often fails, and how to fit it

...and show how to set a better one in this article... 9 Ways to Set a Better Personal Example


Facing Up to Problems

Leadership on ethics can be pretty challenging at times. Recognising how this can happen means you're going to be better prepared for when you encounter it yourself. These two articles will help...

8 Reasons why Ethics Initiatives can Loose Momentum

4 Signs that Senior People are Struggling with Ethics 

Learning Resource 

Leadership on Ethics Course

This course provides a firm with detailed learning resource on leadership on ethics, from what it is, through to overcoming the challenges it can face.    

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