8 Characteristics of an Ethical Leader
Unfortunately, not all leaders are good leaders; rather, it takes certain qualities to make a leader likable, trustworthy, and inspirational. Whether they're an organizational or government leader, it's their responsibility to make the right decisions for a group of people.
While that can be stressful, an ethical leader will have the necessary character traits to make the decision and lead their team in the right direction. Below we will review the definition of ethical leadership, the characteristics that make an ethical leader, and how you can strive to be an ethical leader yourself.
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What is Ethical Leadership?
An ethical leader is one that always makes the decisions they believe are right—no matter if it's unpopular or inconvenient. To make the right decision, an ethical leader must have a solid set of values and attributes to rely on when things get tough. A moral leader needs to be:
An ethical leader cannot play favorites, as they always symbolize justice. For your team to follow you and agree with your decisions, they need to know that you considered all options equally and kept each team member in mind. Employees and team members should not be concerned that you're making decisions based on biases like gender, race, or age.
People are unable to trust those who frequently lie or omit facts. That's why an ethical leader must always be transparent and fair, no matter the consequences. In almost every situation, your team members would instead be told an unpopular truth than a likable lie. Consistent honesty builds trust between a leader and a team and promotes open conversations on job performance, personal struggles, and challenges at work.
Although you're a leader and are technically higher in the chain of command, your team members should never feel that way. To show respect to your employees or followers, you should always attentively listen, value their contributions, and not dismiss their concerns or comments. Your goal as an ethical leader should be to make each team member feel like you're all on the same page and have the same objectives. If you succeed, your team will be more fluid and successful.
While every individual has beliefs and values, an ethical leader must make decisions based on the organization's values. Although this can seem contradictory to an honest, moral leader, most ethical leaders will only partner with companies and organizations they believe in. This ensures that they're comfortable following the organization's values and rules in all decision-making. Ethical leaders will only implement policies that adhere to their (and their organization's) values.
5. Encourages Initiative
Unethical leaders use employees to inflate their egos and make themselves look good to outside parties. On the other hand, ethical leaders work tirelessly to make their employees the stars and motivate them to thrive. Ethical leaders encourage employees to flourish by providing incentives for innovative ideas and suggestions. They will also inspire their team members to improve processes, communication, and collaboration.
6. Leads by Example
Not only should an ethical leaders talk the talk, but they need to walk the walk. Employees and team members will mimic their leader's actions, so an ethical leader will ensure they're leading by example. A leader cannot expect their employees to make the right decisions if they don't point them in the right direction—after all, actions speak louder than words!
7. Focuses on Their Team
A team can complete work more quickly than an individual, which is why ethical leaders encourage and promote team building. Ethical leaders will spend time fostering community and team spirit within their followers. They will also work to help their employees achieve their goals. Ethical leaders understand that their team's goals will benefit an organization more than their individual goals, and they work to ensure the team achieves its goals.
Last but not least, an ethical leader is kind. Employees and team members are human, not machines. A moral leader understands this and treats their followers kindly and humanely. Employees who feel respected and cherished will work harder to achieve company goals, benefiting all parties involved.
Learn More About Ethical Leadership
Whether you're an ethical leader or are looking to become one, our Business Ethics Courses will ensure you learn how to be a successful moral leader. Not only does the course take a more in-depth look at the characteristics we mentioned above, but it also describes the benefits of ethical leadership and summarizes the tools ethical leaders should use. Sign up for the course today!