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Guiding Corporate Behavior: A Leadership Obligation, Not a Choice

Summary: Corporate leaders are recognizing the need to get employees connected with their organizations' visions and values, but traditional "hand off" and "hands off" methods they have used in the past no longer suffice. A much more direct involvement in the operational process is required on a daily basis. Executives need a specific methodology to ensure decisions made by all members of the organization reflect the appropriate principles and strategies. Senior leaders should set directions that balance the needs of all stakeholders and serve as role models through ethical behavior and personal involvement. Organizational ethics are set by senior management, and while easy to accept in principle, they are often difficult to live up to. Personal value judgments and business pressures can complicate the ethics issue. To be successful, a code of ethics must be specific but not overly detailed. It should be design to ensure individuals make good decisions and provide opportunity for employees to raise their concerns. The ultimate challenge occurs when leaders must take a stand on the side of ethics when their actions may negatively impact results. But short-term gains associated with unethical decisions don't create sustainable performance. They undermine morale and create behaviors that ultimately lead to organizational destruction.

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  • Topics: Leadership
  • Keywords: Accountability,Corporate culture,Organizational improvement initiatives,Management styles,Management commitment,Leadership,Effectiveness,Ethics
  • Author: Hopen, Deborah
  • Journal: Journal for Quality and Participation