An individual’s leadership style also plays a significant role in shaping the corporate culture and motivating ethical conduct. Glanz (2002) reports there have been many studies conducted to help determine the best leadership styles. Most conclude that effective leaders exhibit varying degrees of the following virtues: (a) courage, (b) empathy, (c) judgment, (d) impartiality, (e) enthusiasm, (f) humility, and (g) imagination (Glanz, 2002). The best leaders, however, continue to expand their knowledge, re-examine outdated business strategies, maintain smooth operations and high production levels, and motivate staff confidence. In his book, Leadership Aikido, John O’Neil (1999) introduced six concepts to achieve victorious leadership skills without harming others. These concepts were inspired by the martial arts tradition of Aikido. He ascribes the following six practices that enable leaders to assess and develop their fullest potential: (a) cultivating self-knowledge, (b) practicing the enigmatic art of planning, (c) speak the language of mastery, (d) allowing values to drive the decision-making process, (e) changing the outcome of failure to one of success, and (f) abiding by the law of unintended consequences. This method of leadership embraces the elements of aikido to help executives identify and overstep five major obstacles that impede progress: (a) failure to grow emotionally, (b) failure to make creative decisions, (c) failure to empathize, (d) failure to manage ego, and (e) failure to overcome boredom and alienation (O’Neil, 1999). Leaders that continue to develop effective leadership skills will most likely achieve higher levels of organizational success.
The Decision-Making Process
The decision-making process also plays an integral role in how leaders influence corporate culture and motivate ethical conduct. Hanh (2012) posits that because leaders can get into difficult situations, they must have the ability to handle strong emotions in the workplace in order to maintain effective relationships. To achieve this they must keep communication open and become cognizant to avoid the creation of a negative or repressive work culture. The most successful leaders incorporate practices that help manage strong emotions and become educated on how to utilize these strategies in good times before strong emotions arise. This strategy offers leaders the ability to respond in a more skillful fashion and incorporate effective methods during a crisis (Hanh, 2012). For example, Hanh’s Plum Village organization has developed a culture that incorporates three positive influences of power to guide their code of conduct. They are love, understanding, and letting go. The leaders at Plum Village posit that these three influences of power help in the decision-making process because they are used as effective tools that focus on the release of suffering. Their strategies of operation are designed in a way that does not incorporate punishment or destruction. In addition, they conduct their business practices in a manner that protects the environment and all living things.
Leaders that incorporate ethical choices and learn corporate social responsibility operate a business free of worry and fear concerning their future because their business practices support the stakeholders and the environment rather than exploiting or depleting them. Leaders that possess the ability to listen to their own pain and to that of others are capable of finding solutions for transformation. The most successful leaders learn that ethical leadership can help them realize their goals with the support of their stakeholders. In short, leaders that continue to learn to take care of themselves first, have better knowledge of how to take care of others. This is one effective strategy that ethical leaders use to establish a culture that embraces harmony and respect; one that encourages employees to feel pride and joy.
Organizations like Plum Village that focus on creating a culture of happiness have produced a community that stakeholders are motivated to invest in. Hanh (2012) posits they have created a model that does not focus solely on profit. They also cultivate a climate to create joy and happiness (Hanh, 2012). Businesses should not have to sacrifice happiness to achieve high levels of profit. Organizations that are destructive, engage in fraud, and operate without regard for stakeholders do not enjoy longevity. Leaders in this arena cultivate an atmosphere of discontent and anxiety. Executives on the other hand, who focus on cultivating a climate that motivates ethical conduct without compromising their ability to profit, are more likely to succeed and maintain the confidence and support of their stakeholders. For a workplace to function successfully and harmoniously there must be a code of behavior that everyone is willing to accept. The most effective method of making sure this is accomplished is for leaders to make it a part of their organization’s culture. The most successful do so by setting an example and participating in a leadership style that reflects ethical behavior. They must also include strategies to incorporate supportive speech and engage in actions that bring content and cheerfulness to themselves, their organization, and the community at large. The findings of this research conclude that leaders who engage in ethical misconduct and cultivate a culture of deceit will achieve disastrous results like Enron unless they embrace effective leadership skills that have the power to shape a corporate culture that supports and motivates ethical conduct.
Well, that’s it for this week! Have a great weekend everyone and stay organized!
Enlightened leadership is spiritual if we understand spirituality not as some kind of religious dogma or ideology but as the domain of awareness where we experience values like truth, goodness, beauty, love and compassion, and also intuition, creativity, insight and focused attention. – Deepak Chopra
For more information on Media Magic’s digital publications, or to purchase any of our Business Life audio book titles, please visit amazon.com’s new feature called “Author Central” to view:
Boatright, J. (2009). Ethics and the Conduct of Business (Sixth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Chopra, D. (2012). Spiritual Solutions. New York, NY: Random House, Inc.
Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell. (2013). Business ethics and social responsibility (9th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.
Glanz, J. (2002). Finding your leadership style. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).
Hanh, T. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.
O’Neil, J. (1999). Leadership Aikido. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.