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Do You Have What it Takes to Lead with Ethics?


Do You Have What it Takes to Lead with Ethics?

Soyini Coke shares an evergreen article that explains why it takes courage to move forward with ethical leadership.

Ethics has been on many people’s minds lately. On day 20 of a government shutdown, we’re in a tough spot today in the US. “One of the things about ethics that is really important to understand, is that ethics isn’t for sissies,” says Professor Paul Root Wolpe, Executive Director of the Emory Center for Ethics.

He moves on to say on this week’s CEO Exclusive show, “Sometimes, you have to make really tough decisions. You have to do things that are against other interests. You have to stand up for principal at times, when it might be an expedient thing to drop principal and make a profit. And those that do it, though, especially over time, are the people that we admire. They’re the people that end up being the sort of elder statesmen of our society, or of our business world. Who rise above the pack, because they are known as having integrity. But, integrity isn’t something that you get in a day or a week or a year, it’s a life of living in accord with your values.”

Geez is he right. Yet, while this observation rings true at an intellectual level, what on earth does this mean in practice? Welcome to the study of ethics, y’all. It’s really hard to know what to do when faced with tough choices that affect lots of people. This is why it’s not for sissies.

Oh, and while you’re figuring out what to do, you have an important responsibility to model and communicate ethics in your organization. That’s assuming you want an ethical organization, of course. Professor Ed Queen, who leads their leadership programs explains, “The role of the CEO, and the c-suite, in ensuring the creation and maintenance of an ethical culture is incentivizing and creating ethical behavior in your people.


Key points include: 

  • The role of the leader
  • Integrity
  • Tough decisions

Read the full article, Ethics Is Not for Sissies, on LinkedIn.