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Leadership Skills? Follow the Leaders

Aug 20, 2008
Leaders who hold the highest offices in the world have often abused their power with few negative consequences. As a result, the moral fiber of the workplace has diminished considerably as workers follow the lead of their often misguided managers. Managers who have serious performance issues with their employees may need to take a long, hard look into the ethical mirror of their business establishments and see what type of leadership reflection they see.

Integrity is personal

The overall integrity of a place of business is a direct reflection of the people who work there. Leaders set the moral tone of the organization. Therefore, moral decay leads to theft, fraud, and abuse of company assets by all employees. As workers follow their leaders, they may channel their energy and creativity into personal endeavors instead of focusing on their intended job functions. They may become abusive or inconsiderate of each other rather than working together as a team. They may boldly participate in counterproductive or illegal activities including email or internet abuse, excessive absenteeism or tardiness, violation of safety rules and other policies, destroying or falsifying company records, and creating conflicts of interest in the workplace.

Even when employees are not at liberty to imitate all the abuses of their company leaders, they may be less inclined to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities.

Leaders have to chart the course

Company leaders who have taken moral inventory and found their places of business in arrears must be the initiators of change. Effective change starts at the top. Serious change takes time and money, as well as commitment. So the entire organization must be made aware of the "new direction" in which managers will be leading their teams. Outsourcing leadership training may be the boldest statement a business can make to demonstrate the importance of polishing the image of its leaders. But the organization's needs don't stop there. Clearly written and strictly enforced formal policies may help to underscore the seriousness of leadership commitment to ethical behavior. Cross-functional teams of employees may be the best source for identifying and addressing problem areas. The more everyone in the company is involved, the quicker and easier the changes will take place.

The approach must be upbeat

No matter what type of moral issues a company may be facing, a positive approach is critical. Instead of focusing on the negative behavior (although it does need to be mentioned), an organization may cultivate enthusiasm for the new initiative by focusing on the positive aspects of the change. By showing employees that the company genuinely cares about them and the environment in which they work, the change agent may be able to build momentum for the movement.

Employees know when they're doing something unethical and usually have some private justifications for their actions. In many cases, the justification may be that, "Everybody else is doing it, so it must be ok"; or, "The boss does it, so why can't I?" Most employees will embrace change when they see how it will improve the overall environment of the workplace. Also, most people do not object to rules as long as they apply equally to everybody, including the boss.

The basic premise is uncomplicated

Establishing the integrity of the workforce starts with good leadership. Moral fiber must be woven into the organization from the top and throughout every department. Integrity is not just a word; it is a way of doing business that should be reflected in every employee. Employers who provide their people with the resources they need to make ethical decisions will enjoy higher profits, more harmony among their associates, and leaders who will set a higher standard for a world of business leaders in moral deficit.
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