Books have been written, lots of books, on the topic of ethics. Most of them are well written and I suspect they were written with the best of intentions. But many of them are flawed (in my humble opinion) right from the start because they have titles that suggest there are different “kinds” of ethics. As soon as I see something like “Ethics in the Workplace” I’m turned off.
I’m turned off because of my admittedly simplistic view of ethics. I believe you’re either ethical all the time or you’re not ethical at all. Titles like “Workplace Ethics” or “Levels of Ethics” would indicate you can turn ethics on and off or be more ethical sometimes than you are others.
I originally titled this post “The Ethics of Leadership” and even that is a misnomer. There is no such thing as a special set of ethics for a leader. They are either ethical or they or not. They didn’t become more ethical when they accepted a leadership position. I changed the title of this post to “Ethics” because Ethics stand alone.
Ethics have no need for support from additional words or actions. Leaders don’t need to be held to a “higher standard” of ethics than anyone else. There is not a higher standard of ethics to be held to…you’re either ethical or your not.
If you’re ethical when it’s easy or convenient but not so ethical at others times then stop congratulating yourself because you weren’t actually ethical when it was easy either. It only appeared that way.
One particular concept I’ve recently read said that an ethical leader has no favorites and that they treat everyone equally.
Until the robots take over all the leadership roles leaders will have favorites. That’s because all leaders have one thing in common. They are human. Humans connect with some people better than others. They have similar backgrounds, beliefs, work histories, etc with some people. That makes those people more “favored” then other people who have less in common with the leader.
That’s a fact of life. It does not mean the leader is unethical. Ethical leaders do however treat everyone equally. But do not mistake treating everyone equally with treating everyone the same.
Every person has different motivations, different needs, different levels of understanding and different life and career goals. Authentic Leaders understand those unique characteristics of their people and lead them accordingly.
They apply rules and regulations equally but expectations not so much.
I would never question another person’s ethics. I don’t have to because I’ve only met a few truly ethical people in my lifetime. (and nope, I’m not one of ‘em) My only question to people would be “are you getting closer to being an ethical person or moving farther away?”
I’m trying to get closer. I’m a work in progress.
What about you?
6 thoughts on “Ethics”
Mistaking sameness for equality is a common issue,. Worth a post.
Good idea Bill, thanks for the suggestion.
I think the proper term is create everyone fairly but not necessarily equally.
I agree kind of…. what’s right is not always fair but an ethical leader will do what’s right… whether it’s fair or not.