Ethical Leadership: 7 Tips for Balancing Values and Business Goals

12 min read
Bitrix24 Team
February 28, 2024
Last updated: February 28, 2024
Ethical Leadership: 7 Tips for Balancing Values and Business Goals

Despite what popular culture might have you think, the world of business is not at all full of cold-hearted snakes, rakes, and vultures. You might be surprised to find that most of the top leaders are also values and cultural role models in their respective fields. These leaders are successful because they have a mind for profit, marketing, and overall success. However, more importantly, they are able to provide their staff with ethical leadership.

Unethical behaviors can lead to issues and bigger problems that can harm you or your employees and even your brand reputation. This is why it’s important to make the decision to be an ethical leader from day one. It’s not always easy or pleasant, but really, nothing in life ever is. However, if you want your team to be made up of well-rounded people, your customers satisfied with your business, and your brand reputation in excellent condition, it’s worth it all.

What is ethical leadership?

Ethical leadership is acting ethically – with honesty, respect, fairness, integrity, and a heart for service. Basically, every good and superior trait you may think of when dreaming up the kind of leader you would look up to. Ethical leaders consistently adhere to moral leadership principles, and they seize every opportunity to integrate ethics into their business practices.

These types of leaders may not always explicitly state to employees that they want everyone to follow their example. However, their unwavering commitment to leadership ethics makes them role models unconsciously. They are the type of leaders that people gravitate towards and oftentimes want to emulate.

How to apply an ethical leadership?

Being a business leader is high-pressure enough as it is. Integrating ethical principles in leadership makes one somewhat of a rarity, especially when they are able to balance their values with business goals. This should be worn as a badge of honor. As corny as it may come across, ethical leadership should be the standard, regardless of what everyone else in the industry is doing.

If you're interested in applying moral leadership principles to your daily work life but are unsure where to begin, you've come to the right place. This article offers an in-depth exploration of the topic and provides 7 practical tips for ethical leadership.

1. Have clearly defined mission, vision, and values statements

Your company’s mission, vision, and values statements are what sets you apart from others in the industry. These mission principles define how you operate your business, while the vision illustrates how you will manage your employees and treat your customers. Lastly, the values statement gives customers, stakeholders, and investors an idea of how your employees will conduct themselves.

These three are generally called a company’s core commitments. With your mission, vision, and values statements, you’re making a declaration as to what your company’s basic principles are. Once these are clearly outlined, they can be used as a roadmap for how you run your business. You can then lay these out to your employees and new hires before getting their buy-ins. This will solidify their commitment to live by these principles while they’re in your employment.

You should also consciously hire people who share your mission, vision, and values as a business. Doing this guarantees that they are committed to the same principles as you. This ensures that your customers are looked after, your brand reputation is preserved, and the quality of people in the workplace is always exceptional. When you have like-minded people in your team, you can rest assured they will value the same things you do at all times, and your business is always in safe hands.

Ethical Leadership

2. Show your staff what “exceptional” means

Leading by example can sometimes wear and weigh you down, but the payoff for ethical leadership is well worth it. To enable your team to be exceptional, you sometimes have to show them what that means. Be it in how you treat others, communicate with everyone in the workplace, or how you carry yourself in general. Exceptional does not clock out, and as a leader, you need to keep in mind that you always have eyes on you. There’s no better training tool than letting people see you in action. This is what Peter Parker meant when he said what he did about great power and responsibility.

Think back to when you were little and struggling to understand something. A quick demonstration from Mom or Dad solves the problem, and you’re good to go on your own. The same applies to ethical leadership and expecting exceptional performance from your people. There are moments when you have to show them the ropes.

If you notice someone lagging, either in their deliverables or their stats, you can coach them to do better by demonstrating how. What is the best way to build rapport? How do you deliver unfavorable news without offending? How do you politely decline a request? Teaching your team, guiding them, and showing them what exceptional means in the workplace is part of what being a leader is.

3. Adopt an open-door policy

The door is proverbial, but the bulk of the matter is this: if you want ethical leadership, always be ready to listen and communicate with your team. By communicating, you’re able to understand better and learn more. Being a leader is not all about talking to your team. It’s also about hearing them out, whatever it is that they have to say.

Keep in mind that different people prefer various modes of communication. Some like instant messaging, while others prefer video conferencing. For this, you need communication software that allows you to be available to your people however they want to connect with you. Your job is to keep the door open. You can schedule quick check-ins with your team weeklyon a weekly basis or a team meeting. Whatever you choose, the goal should be to keep in touch.

Being an ethical leader also entails being an effective communicator. Being able to listen, absorb, and exchange views. Encourage open dialogue within your team. Allow them to have some time for fun banter. Sit them around a conference table to bounce ideas off of each other. You might not expect it, but people are full of surprises. You never know what things you can learn just by talking with and listening to your employees.

4. Promote integrity, honesty and respect

It looks easy enough in black and white, but these three words weigh a lot: integrity, honesty, and respect. Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking. This is someone that you can trust to work from home but still get the job done without any monitoring tools. You can leave this person in charge of the Escalations queue and expect customers to be calm and appeased in no time.

Balancing values and business goals is never an easy undertaking. It’s usually either of the two and never both. However, if you hire people who share the same values as you, honesty is automatic. Sure, customers might not appreciate candor all the time, but they will be thankful for it down the line. After all, no one likes being patronized or lied to. There are ways to deliver not-so-good news without customers flying off the handle. At the end of the day, all that matters is that you were honest.

Respect is earned. Or so they say. In business, especially customer-facing ones, respect is instinctive. Respectful employees connect with customers, and the conversation is calm, smooth-flowing, and professional. They might not agree on everything but are able to converse in a polite manner because respect means a lot to your team. All of these are despite customers who become abusive, rude, or difficult for no reason. Whatever anyone throws at them, your employees remain respectful, fair, and businesslike because they learned it from you.

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5. Train your team to be problem solvers and negotiators

There is nothing that cannot be resolved without some good old-fashioned negotiation. Call it what you want: striking a bargain or settling on a compromise. You need to train your team on the careful balance between your values and your company’s business goals so they can maintain them. They can allow a little giveaway where the customer’s requests or demands are concerned. But they should also be cautious not to get taken advantage of or manipulated into agreeing to something that will shortchange the business.

These are the steps for effective problem-solving that you can impart to your employees:

  • Identifying the problem

  • Getting down to its root cause

  • Going through possible solutions

  • Implementing the chosen solution

Train your team to be polite but firm, courteous but professional. Since they are customer-focused, they are stewards of your business’s best interest. Ethical decision-making in leadership also means that you outline an escalation process or workaround in case their solution is not favorable to the customer or is not well-received. Let them know that should get tough, their leaders have their back.

6. Know the ins and outs of the business

You cannot possibly have any hope of inspiring, motivating, and empowering your staff through ethical leadership If you don’t know what your business is about. Your team should be confident in the knowledge that they can come to you whenever they need clarity, guidance, and assurance. As the head, the leader, you should be well-versed in the products and/or services you offer, the standard operating procedures within your company, along with all the daily ins and outs.

It might be exhausting being the go-to person, but if you want to make sure everyone onin the team is well-equipped for the job, it’s important. What you can do is set up a knowledge base that anyone can use at any time. Choose a software that allows your corporate knowledge base to be accessible from anywhere in the world, which is best for when you have remote workers. Make sure its contents are regularly reviewed and updated to keep them fresh. Encourage your workforce to come to you, as well, should they need to have anything added to the existing library.

Take ethical leadership a step further by getting a team drive where you can store important documents and other work-related files. Share access so anyone who needs to can view, edit, and share files. If you want to be confident that sensitive information remains protected, lock editing access and allow views only. What’s important is that the resources are available.

Ethical Leadership

7. Be a champion of ethics and all its components

What does ethical leadership really mean at its core? It is what gives leadership heart and soul. It’s the added “something” that makes you not only a role model but also an inspiration to everyone you come across. Despite business dilemmas, scandals, and issues, you are able to stand by your values and enjoin your team to do the same. It might not always be easy or enjoyable, but you’ll be happier with yourself and your employees will be more positively influenced.

Ethical leadership values include the following:

  • Fairness and justice

  • Transparency

  • Responsibility and accountability

  • Leading by example

  • Continuous learning

  • Cultivation of positive leadership values and company culture

Lastly, ethical leadership means unbending, absolute zero tolerance for anything unethical in the workplace. This could be some, if not all, of the following:

  • Abuse of power

  • Bullying

  • Rudeness to both customers and colleagues

  • Unwillingness to be trained or coached

  • Lying

  • Stealing

If you notice someone behaving in an unethical manner, don’t hesitate to call it out right away. There’s no reason to let unwanted and bad conduct fester. You will then run the risk of ruining the whole team. Catch it early, but be sure to correct it in private. Nothing is ever worth shaming your team in public for bad behavior notwithstanding.

BONUS: Let loose and have fun

Ethical leadership includes rewards, recognition, and relaxation, knowing when to let loose and have fun. Like it or not, our jobs will begin to wear us and our team down. The best way to combat this is to show them that sometimes it’s okay to let their hair down and enjoy themselves. This can be done in the workplace and outside.

For example, you can save 10 minutes of your 1 hour meeting time each week to recognize top performers and reward them. Giving them praise in front of the entire workforce can do a lot of good. It can boost their morale, inspire confidence, and make them feel valued. In terms of rewardsreward, free pizza, gift cards, or even just a certificate can sometimes be more than enough to make people happy.

If you want a bigger initiative that will leave more of an impact, adopt corporate social responsibility strategies. These will connect your company with the community, fostering the spirit of solidarity and support. Here are a few activities you might want to look into:

  • Tree planting

  • Food banks

  • Soup kitchens

  • Medical drives for humans and their pets

  • Sidewalk cleaning

  • Senior citizen visits and check-ins

There are a lot of other activities that your team can join in on so you can do some good in the community as a collective. These might not be largely targeted to reward your employees, but in a sense, everyone involved will walk away feeling fulfilled, happy, and satisfied. This is thanks to the knowledge that they have done some good.

Ethical Leadership

The heart and soul of ethical leadership

Business is not for the weak. However, sometimes, success requires a little softness, kindness, and empathy. There are moments when it’s not all about revenue and turning a profit. Sometimes, it all comes down to your values as a company and your ethical standpoint that makes you distinct. The things that are not seen set your brand apart from everyone else in the market.

Ethical leadership is made even more possible with reliable and robust software that brings you and your team the best tools for the job. Bitrix24 is packed full of these tools and more – to enable you to stand firm in your values and give your customers and employees the best. Sign up today and discover for yourself how Bitrix24 can make ethical leadership possible and easily doable for you.

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Bitrix24 is a place where everyone can communicate, collaborate and manage daily activities. Encourage teamwork now.

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FAQs

How can leaders effectively integrate ethical values into business goals?

Leaders can effectively integrate ethical values into business goals by:

  • Having clearly defined mission, vision, and values statements

  • Showing their staff what “exceptional” means

  • Adopting an open-door policy

  • Demonstrating integrity, honesty, and respect

  • Training their team to be problem solvers and negotiators

  • Knowing the ins and outs of the business

  • Being a champion of ethics and all its components

What are the key challenges in maintaining ethical leadership in a competitive business environment?

The key challenges in maintaining ethical leadership in a competitive business environment are:

  • Becoming the “odd one out” or outlier

  • Resistance from employees

  • Communication breakdown

  • Being let down by employees’ unethical behavior

  • Lack of confidence from staff

  • Being ill-equipped for the job

How does ethical leadership impact company culture and employee performance?

Ethical leadership impacts company culture and employee performance by creating an environment where integrity, honesty, and respect are highly prioritized. This culture encourages free thinkers who are confident in their abilities and have the trust of their employers. What all of these produce are happy employees, satisfied customers, and a clean brand reputation.

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Table of Content
What is ethical leadership? How to apply an ethical leadership? 1. Have clearly defined mission, vision, and values statements 2. Show your staff what “exceptional” means 3. Adopt an open-door policy 4. Promote integrity, honesty and respect 5. Train your team to be problem solvers and negotiators 6. Know the ins and outs of the business 7. Be a champion of ethics and all its components BONUS: Let loose and have fun The heart and soul of ethical leadership FAQs
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