Whether you are on or off the field (for sports) or in or around the office (for business), ethics is an integral part of any team or organization. In order to be very clear, ethics is defined as being the branch of philosophy that deals with the concepts of what is right and what is wrong. As a leader, how do you go about creating an ethics culture within your organization?
Set Clear and Concise Expectations
There should never be a question regarding what type of behavior is okay and what is unacceptable. This is applicable in all parts of life. For example, each sport has clear rules on game play. These rules are a fundamental part of any training program. Having clear expectations will help everyone follow the rules.
Lead by Example
This is perhaps the most important part of creating an ethics culture. Although it may sound cliché, you cannot simply talk the talk and expect others to follow. You need to be a constant display of how to follow and fulfill the expectations that are there. Whether you are a leader in your organization or a team member, it is important to understand that there are others that are watching you and will act based on what they see.
Practice Positive Reinforcement
This is also known as operant conditioning. When someone does exactly what he or she are expected to do, you should reinforce that behavior. Reinforcement can be practiced in many forms. It can be verbal praise for a job well done or even a simple expression on gratitude. Positive reinforcement does not have to be drastic. However, you do want that person to know that you recognize their efforts.
On the other hand, negative behavior should not be reinforced.
Cultivate Problem Solving Skills
A very important part of being a leader is allowing your team to solve problems. While in some situations it may be easier to fix the problem yourself, that does not demonstrate anything to your team. The first time you fix a problem, provide a systematic method for solving the problem to those that are involved.
You can also create fictitious scenarios for your team so that they know how to solve the issues before they occur.
Provide Tools for Growth
In order to effectively create an ethics culture, you need to ensure that your team has all of the tools they need. These tools can come in many different forms such as having the proper resources, training to use these resources, and supervision.
Give Constructive Criticism
When anyone in your organization acts in a manner that is not acceptable, it is important to address that behavior properly. Instead of just telling someone that they did something wrong, you need to point out what was done properly and provide feedback on what should be improved upon. The last thing you want to do is discourage a team member by berating their performance.
As you can see, creating an ethics culture is not difficult. It simply requires doing the right things consistently. Following the above principles is a great start for success.
Chuck Gallagher is a business leader, author and speaker on the subject of ethics, choices and consequences. Featured for his unique perspective on ethics and ethical leadership, Chuck has appeared on CBS, NPR, and CNN and in the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post and Business Week publications. While his client base is typically businesses, Chuck finds great pleasure in working with schools to impact, influence and empower youth to make ethical choices. Chuck can be reached at chuckgallagher.com