Before we begin this week’s post we’d like to say:
And now … this week’s post, Ethics as a Managerial Skill
The media is saturated with stories about ethical misconduct and reckless behavior from leaders. This has led to such outcomes like: (a) corporate and government shutdowns; (b) drug addicted politicians that abuse their power; (c) billionaires whose actions are destructive and appear immoral; and (d) respected officials in religious and educational institutions that use their power to abuse innocent victims. Has this occurred because of outdated views on leadership? Do many people in elite positions lack education on what defines moral misconduct? Have they lost their sense of right and wrong behavior because of the unlimited power that comes from their status? Did they develop and nurture a narcissistic personality disorder due to their elite position where greed becomes a sickness that drives their internal engines toward abusive behavior and misconduct? Were these leaders corrupted because of little or no oversight and did not face punishment or consequences for poor outcomes? Regardless of the reasons behind misconduct, what all these components have in common is leadership that did not exercise ethical behavior.
In his book, The No Asshole Rule, management and engineering professor at Stanford University, Robert Sutton (2007), suggests that many managers intentionally use intimidation as a strategy to gain and maintain power. However, in most situations, he contends the asshole simply does not get the best results. Furthermore, psychological studies show that abusive bosses reduce productivity, stifle creativity, and can cause high rates of absenteeism, company theft, and turnover. In fact, according to one study, 25 percent of bullied employees and 20 percent of those who witness bullying, will eventually quit because of it (Sutton, 2007). Although many managers and leaders are effective and productive in their roles, those who reveal the following characteristics: (a) behavior with cultural views that were developed from distorted views on morality, (b) a code of ethics based on unhealthy levels of narcissistic behavior, and (c) severe limitations in right and wrong behavior, are typically unable to acknowledge a problem even exists. In short, any misconduct that occurs will not change unless the topic of ethical conduct is addressed and each staff member comprehends and acknowledges, what constitutes right and wrong behavior as well as what is expected from each employee in any given situation at the organization.
In my eBook Ethics in the Real World (2013), just released on audiobook, I point out that individuals in leadership positions can become dangerous without consequences or have someone to answer to. In addition, those in positions of power, for instance, desperate to achieve their own pursuits, do not typically operate within the rules of reciprocity. This usually occurs because of leaders who have carefully crafted and cultivated an environment of enablers (Berry, 2013). Sometimes the misconduct is exposed and the guilty parties are persecuted. Many times however, it is never exposed.
On Wednesday we will identify three main managerial groups within an organization and take a closer look at the role each one plays in sculpting an ethical culture. Until then, keep building your leadership skills and stay organized!
Force always attracts men of low morality. – Albert Einstein
Baack, D. (2012). Organizational Behavior. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Berry, M. A. (2013). Ethics in the Real World. USA: Kindle Direct Publishing.
Sutton, R. (2007). The no asshole rule: Builind a Civilized Workplace and surving one that isn’t. New York, NY: Warner Business Books.