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Company Culture Series: Ethical Leadership

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HR Governance

Most, if not all company leaders indicate that a strong, healthy workplace culture is important. However, what is often overlooked is just how important leadership is for setting the tone and upholding company values.

Company Leaders are Role Models

What sort of culture are you hoping to cultivate in your organization? What are your company’s key values? It is not uncommon for companies to list the values they would like to prioritize – only to have leaders and managers fail to “walk the walk”, so to speak. Employees look to senior leaders for guidance, and if a culture arises where these leaders are cutting corners, taking shortcuts, or behaving in unethical ways, it becomes easy for employees at all rungs of the ladder to believe these types of behaviours are acceptable – that a blind eye can turn into a larger problem for the business. If it continues to progress unchecked, the company can gain an unsavory reputation which will impact their business relationships and negatively impact future profitability.

Catch Problems Early

Those at the very top of the organization must always be aware of the tone being set, and take action quickly if inappropriate behaviour is exhibited. This reinforces the company’s true values, and helps to ensure employees understand what is considered acceptable and what is not. Our individual understanding of right and wrong is subjective.

Reinforcing Company Values

Additionally, leaders also have a responsibility to provide positive reinforcement when an employee is seen to be behaving in ways that align with company values. Perhaps a middle manager handled a sticky situation with honesty and integrity, showing that she truly had the company’s best interests at heart. Acknowledge this person and thank her for setting positive tone.

Strong Values make for Strong Companies

An organization that truly lives up to its values (and sees them as more than just a line of text on the company website or words on a poster) is on track to build a strong, healthy culture, and to maintain an environment that employees are happy to be part of. Do not be afraid to update your company values to match with your operating environment and changes in leadership, but be clear about what you stand for exactly.

Here to Help

Would you like more information on ethical leadership, or do you have other HR–related questions? We can be reached for a free confidential consultation at +1-403-470-5350 or [email protected]

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Further Reading

Other articles you may be interested in:

Company Culture Series: Employer Branding and Communication


Company Culture Series: Company Traditions


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