Each and every organization has a set of unwritten rules and processes that people simply know are the way things get done there. These also encompass the ethics of all organizations. The ethical stance of the organization is in part open for all to see in how it shows itself to the outside world. Equally, the internal culture that only those working in the organisation or having intimate relations with it demonstrate clearly what it is that matters to those at the top of the business.
Setting the tone for how any organization, big or small, operates is what the senior leadership team does. They may think they are all about developing and implementing strategies and plans but what has far stronger impact is the way they conduct themselves on a day-to-day basis.
If “how things are done round here” is about the culture that operates within a business then whether the “how” is right or not is all about the ethics. This all comes down to personal and business values of course and values vary around the world. What some see as corruption others see as the normal way that business happens. Where these differences lead to conflict is when values clash.
Setting out the values that an organization lives by, and by implication all employees, is the one way to make its ethical stance abundantly clear.
Actions always speak louder than words and no more so when outsiders witness an organization taking decisions based on their values rather than an obvious return on investment. Reputation is key in a world so dominated by social media that can pick up on the smallest piece of news and bring it to the attention of millions.
For the leader who truly has the long term sustainability and performance of their business at heart living by their values will drive the culture of their business, its ethical standpoint and its reputation. Of course, to do this the leader needs to understand his or her own values and purpose first, and not all do.
© Paul Slater and Reflect & Lead, 2015.