I started writing this Blog with the thought of summing up in one article, however my thoughts and research have lead me to break it down into a 3 part series, hope you enjoy!
In Business both leaders and colleges are faced with the trust and ethical division within themselves as they forge to develop and improve their careers in their chosen fields.
In the past 20 years I have grown and developed through a transformation of the business world that has inspired me, shocked me and at times left me bewildered. I am however grateful to have sensed and experienced the evolution of trust and ethics in the business world because it has enabled me to develop a core understanding of what is required to make a business truly successful for the long-term.
More and more businesses are beginning to realise the importance of true ethical standards to maximise customer’s satisfaction and staff retention as well as developing a core workplace culture that continues to support the latter. However, there is still a long way to go for business and leaders in particular to understand the true nature and relationship ethics has with the fundamental function of the business and its relationship to trust and culture creation.
In university studies we are taught extensively about ethics and how it relates to the moral and ethical problems that arise in business and how it applies not just to the business but also to the individual on equal measure. As time went on however there were key relationships that were more evident in importance and relevance. The relationship between morals, ethics and the individual are not simply to understand the ethical code as it is written or the laws as they are perceived. If we are to truly understand and envision an ethical standard we must break it down to an individuals level first, only then can we begin to create a change in how the business operates ethically.
As an individual our moral standards are derived from lessons that we have learnt through stories and/or experiences as well as our own definitions of what is right or wrong. This being the case our individual moral standards are going to vary according to what he/she learns or experiences throughout their life, both internal and external to the workplace.
We are all products of our environment and experiences. We are all unique; therefore what is an ethical standard to a business if as individuals it is only seen as words on paper?
By this I mean as individuals we learn differently, not all in the same way. The learning styles could be Visual, Logical, Verbal, Physical & Aural. So, with this being the case, is it not surprising to see unethical behavior or what some perceive as immoral actions from people that have not been taught anything less?
Person A starts working with a company that has in place its own ethical standards by which it operates. However, as this person begins to learn how the company works, he/she see’s that certain actions that may be perceived as immoral or unethical are common in those that are leading or getting ahead in the business. Individual ambition takes over, they watch and learn as loopholes are exposed that enable one to act in an unethical manner that is justified by the environment and a need to get ahead. This begins to manifest itself as individuals play the game in the name of ambition, the same as those that have gone before them. They get ahead only to learn not to trust others around them in the event that someone else is trying to play the same game.
Person B starts work at the same company and has a core moral standard that has been instilled in them. They try to operate above and beyond the standards that the company or laws require. In doing so he/she finds themself competing against the status quo of culture already embedded in the company. They are asked to carry out a request from a leader that challenges their moral and ethical responsibility. If they refuse, they could be seen as weak or a threat. If they accept, they go against there own values and morals. Either way, they are breaking a piece of that person that can begin to manifest and grow in a negative way.
There is a common creation in both examples, the creation of negativity within the individual and as a result the culture of the business. Person A’s has created a negative impact on those around them in the name of getting ahead, while also learning not to trust others should they try to do the same thing. Person B has created a negative impact on themselves, as they feel cornered and are forced to question their place in the business as well as the need to provide for themselves and the family. Ultimately this will lead to conformity on their part and learning not to trust or leaving having lost faith in the business.
Linda Fisher Thornton, a leader in the field of ethics & trust and Author of “7 Lenses, Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership” recently outlined in her blog, “Got Ethics? Are You Positive?” http://leadingincontext.com/2014/04/02/ethics-is-positive/
“The future of ethical leadership is intentional, proactive and positive.”
“Only by intentionally focusing on the positive ethical values are we ethical leaders.”
“Only by intentionally focusing on the positive ethical values do we create ethical workplaces.”
Linda sums up perfectly the need to not merely say you operate ethically, but to lead, educate and install in your workplace a culture of ethical standards that are focused on the positive attributes of the individual rather than the negative.
Are you doing everything required to educate and create a positive ethical environment?
Part 2 of this discussion i will delve into the the trust factor as it relates to ethics and culture.
Until then, Live the dream,