Build Ethical Operation With Rules, Transparency

December 07, 2012

Investor's Business Daily

Traditional ways to train leaders to operate ethically don’t always work, but it’s not a lost cause. Other methods can make sure honesty is in your organization.

 Keep your word. It’s as simple as doing what you’ve said you would. But you have to do it over and over, for years.

“It takes a long time to build trust,” said James O’Toole, professor of business ethics at the University of Denver. “But it can be lost almost immediately with one careless act. That’s why it’s so tricky. With followers, you only get one chance.”

 Be open. Leaders should let their team in on their direction.

“When people don’t know what’s going on, they’re less likely to have trust,” O’Toole said.

Employees prefer to know what leaders are thinking and how they reached decisions, he says.

Simply by understanding the rationale, workers are likelier to follow the direction that has been set, even if they disagree with it.