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How to Exhibit Ethical Leadership in Business

Organizations can suffer severe consequences when they fail to adhere to ethical business practices. In today's 24/7 news and social media cycle, it is difficult for an organization to keep its ethical lapses hidden from customers, employees and industry regulators.

Manhattan College's online Master's in Business Administration program will teach students the skills to identify ethical issues in business. However, some examples of unethical business practices are obvious, such as those of Enron, WorldCon and predatory mortgage lenders. Others are less black-and-white, such as companies that crush smaller competitors or fail to pay employees a fair wage1.

What many businesses are now realizing, is that making ethical business practices part of their culture can be a competitive differentiator, and even a magnet for investment2. These organizations are seeking to hire employees who follow key practices common among ethical leaders, which can include:

Living their values. With truly ethical business leaders, there is little divergence between private and public behavior3. This kind of conviction originates from knowing what their values are, and following them consistently.

Operating with honesty, integrity and fairness. They are transparent in their dealings. They can be counted upon to do what is right, even if the decision to do so is tough. They do not sacrifice the good of many in favor of the good of a few.

Following the laws and their industry's regulations. In their business dealings, they do not take bribes (or make them), backroom deals or shortcuts4.

Making ethical behavior a central pillar of their culture5. From applying an ethical scale as part of annual employee evaluations, to drafting a corporate code of conduct, to encouraging employees to speak up about wrongdoing6, ethical business leaders make it clear to employees that they also play a role in maintaining the company's positive reputation.

Proactively promoting ethical behavior. Rather than creating a culture that discourages employees from doing "the wrong thing," they foster an atmosphere where people are enabled to do the "right thing." It's a subtle, but critical, difference.

Hiring the right people. They employ people with both excellent capabilities and moral judgment — and weed out those who do not meet those standards7.

Educational institutions are recognizing the importance of ethical leadership in business and offering classes on this subject. Manhattan College, founded on Lasallian Catholic principles, offers a Professional Ethics course through its online M.B.A. program. To learn more about this program, click here or call (855) 841-2843 to speak with the Admissions office.