Fearless Ethics

By Dana Gillis, Executive Coach

wrong_rightDavid Ogilvy, the original Don Draper, came up with a list of “10 Things to Look for In a Leader.” Traits listed were, charisma; a capacity for hard work; guts under pressure – resilience in defeat; creativity; courage; a sense of humor; brilliance; being big without being petty and the ability to inspire others to greatness.
At the top of the list was “high standards of personal ethics.” Reading Ogilvy’s list set me to thinking about which of those traits is the most important facet of Fearless Leadership.

Like building a house, Fearless Leadership requires a strong foundation. A homebuilder wouldn’t think about constructing a house without first pouring concrete and letting it cure before building a home on top of it. Likewise, a successful principal must have a strong foundation upon which to build a legacy of Fearless Leadership. That foundation, it could be argued, is unquestioned personal ethics.  What is the manifestation of fearless ethics in the workplace, in our daily lives and most importantly, in a leader? Let’s take a look.

The issue of leadership ethics is a topic that has garnered the attention of the public in the aftermath of corporate scandals of the 1980s, ‘90s and the early years of the 21st century. The exposure of these scandals forced business executives, governments and academic institutions to focus on the need for ethical behavior in the realm of business. A watershed event highlighting the need for business ethics was the 2001, fall of Enron Corporation. The lack of ethical behavior on the part of Enron’s corporate leaders resulted in a $63.4 billion dollar corporate bankruptcy. The scale of such a catastrophic financial failure and similar scandals in the worlds of business and banking resulted in public and governmental calls for tougher regulations and enforceable sanctions. Ethically, Fearless Leadership could be a hedge against such calamitous failures in the future.

[tweetthis]Unquestioned personal ethics is the foundation for Fearless Leadership – a hedge against failure.[/tweetthis]

How do you build a foundation for Fearless Leadership?  Here are four cornerstones for your consideration:

  • Make decisions founded upon ethical principles. Ensure that your decision-making takes into account the good of others and is right and just. Consider how those who will be impacted by the result of your decisions will view your actions.
  • Be fair. Treat stakeholders with compassion and fairness. Lead under the tenet of the good you put out in the world will be returned to you many times over.
  • Be Consistent. Do the right thing the first time and every time. Fearlessly challenge the unethical behavior of others.
  • Model behavior of unquestioned ethics as the capstone of your foundation for Fearless Leadership. Keep your word. Do exactly what you say you’re going to do. In all things be truthful.

The road to Fearless Leadership is not an easy path, but with Fearless Ethics as your compass, the journey will be straight and true.