Creating and Sustaining an Ethical Workplace Culture
The values – attitude – behavior chain
Application: Values drive behavior and therefore need to beconsciously stated, but they also need to be affirmed by actions.
Ethics is about behavior. In the face of dilemma, it is about doing the right thing. Ethicalmanagerial leaders and their people take the "right" and "good" path when they come tothe ethical choice points.The purpose of this article is to steer your thinking and action toward creating andsustaining an ethical workplace culture. Managerial leaders and their people are invitedto explore how values, actions, and behavioral standards can help steer organizationalbehavior.
Values Drive Behavior
A well-used axiom in organizational behavior thought asserts that
. In a nutshell, values exert influence over our attitudes, and attitudesinfluence our behavior. Values are integral to attitude formation and to how we respondto people and situations. Extensive literature exists dealing with how values relate toeffective managerial leadership. A review of this body of work leaves us with the clear picture that values are a key component of effective managerial leadership.There seems to be a subset of virtuous values that align with ethical behavior. In hisbook,
,Martin Seligman has reviewed these core virtuous valuesthat influence ethical behavior and appear to have universal appeal. My adaptation of these values as they apply to ethics follows:
Wisdom and Knowledge
: The capacity to take information and convert it tosomething useful. Wisdom comes from capitalizing on one's experience tointerpret information in a knowledgeable manner to produce wise decisions. Aprerequisite to doing the right thing when facing an ethical dilemma is knowingwhat to do, knowing the difference between right and wrong.
: The ability to avoid unethical temptations. The capacity to take theethical path requires a commitment to the value of acting with temperance.Ethical people say "no" to individual gain if it is inconsistent with institutionalbenefit and goodwill.
Justice and Fair Guidance
: The fair treatment of people. Justice is served whenindividuals perceive that they receive a fair return for the energy and effortexpended. For example, a leader's commitment to justice is tested continuallywith the allocation of organizational resources. Are certain individuals and groupsgiven special treatment without regard to objective criteria by which to judgefairness? Ethical leaders value and embrace fair advice and guidance.
: The recognition that there is something beyond oneself morepermanent and powerful than the individual. Without this value, one may tendtoward self-absorption. Leaders who are motivated predominately by self-interest