What influence do ethical leaders have in contributing to a corporate ethical culture?
In A Long Walk to Freedom Nelson Mandela describes that a leader
...is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind
This being said, there is an enormous influence exerted from a leader onto the creation of an ethical corporate culture.
If we follow the definition of a "leader" proposed in Paul Taffinder's book The Leader's Crash Course (2007), an ethical leader that influences a corporation is known as the "transformational leader". This type of leader detours from the merely administrative role and enforces a corporate culture. This corporate culture will be inspired by the leader's own dicta which, as it often happens with transformational leaders, inspire employees and lower-level leaders alike to join forces to enhance the mission and vision of the organization. This is the extent to which a transformational leader is influential: the leadership style is convincing, makes sense, inspires others to follow, and bonds groups and sub-groups together.
Establishing an ethical corporate culture entails the creation of organizational values that are a direct result of the organizational mission and vision. Adhering to these values secures the ethical dynamics of all groups and may even serve as a rubric for self-assessment that all employees can use to monitor their on ethical behavior.
Some of such ethical values may include, but are not limited to:
- addressing complaints through the proper channels (i.e, do not "jump the boat")
- follow a system of communication that gives both channels the same chance to speak out.
- respect the personal and professional space of others
- limit your inside noise level for the benefit of all
- information shared within the company stays within the company until further advised
- celebrate your own accomplishments and those of your peers
When a transformational leader inspires the organization to abide by a unique system of value and dynamics that embodies the mission and vision, there is no limit to how much success the group will enjoy. Therefore the main influence of the ethical leader is
- to guide
- to teach
- to demonstrate
- to inspire
- to establish
- to change things for the better