“If good ethics always was good business, only stupid people would be unethical. The ugly truth is that sometimes ethical people lose and unethical people win. That’s why success is not a reliable measure of virtue.” – Michael Josephson
A leader who lacks character or integrity will not endure the test of time. Some leaders resign to the thought that good ethics is not good for business and therefore don’t see minor transgressions as issues. Interestingly a study in 2012 (in 43 countries) found that 47% of the 400 chief financial officers surveyed felt they could justify potentially unethical practices to help business survive during an economic downturn. Those practices included giving cash payments, using entertainment and giving personal gifts to win business. They in fact lead by the ‘wrong’ example- some of them are listed below.
When ethical behavior is discussed in business, people think of major events and examples and refer to bribery & corruption, political influence, child labour, etc. But I thought of listing some common habits that are like drops that make the mighty ocean. For example:
Claim credit for others’ work
Pass blame for your own errors onto one of your co-workers
Use company resources or staff for your own purpose
Conduct personal business while on the job
Take spouse on a business trip and charge all expenses to the company
Copy a company owned software program for your own use
Conceal misconduct or under performance of your blue-eyed favorite staff
Not report your supervisor’s violation of company policy
It doesn’t matter how intelligent, friendly, or savvy the leader is, if they are prone to rationalizing unethical behavior, they will eventually destroy themselves.