Three ‘Cheats’ of the Ethical Leader

tempAn ethical leader is someone dedicated to always doing the right thing for the employees, the business, and all stakeholders.  Alas, this ideal for the selfless and driven leader clashes with the reality of who most of us really are.

So, how do we, as flawed human beings, become the near perfect ethical leaders that we need to be to drive our businesses to success?

The answer is simple… we cheat.

We create sneaky tips, tricks, reminders or work arounds that help us to live up to the ideal of the ethical leader.   By following each of the three “cheats” below, we can all become more effective and more ethical leaders for our teams and in our businesses.

1.    Act As If

We need to act as if we are the positive, ethical coach and leader all the time.

  • On a daily basis, when we have had a really bad morning or are just annoyed or ticked off, we still must walk head held high into the office, put on a smile, greet all the team and tell everyone that we are doing great
  • When a difficult situation or major problem happens right before we are to leave for the day, we must drop everything, step up, take charge, and act as a leader.
  • When the business is struggling and morale is sinking, we must remain calm, collected and unflinchingly positive no matter how we may feel.

In many situations, we may not feel like being the ethical leader.  But, we must always act as if we are that ethical leader.


2.   Take Notes to Remember…and Impress

As leaders, we need to learn from great politicians and remember details about our teams to connect with them.  Unfortunately, we may not have the memory to remember all this information.  Instead, we take notes and write down relevant business and personal details about the members of our team, our customers and suppliers after we meet them.  Then, before we meet for the next time, we review the notes and make sure to ask a question that shows that we have remembered some of their personal details (birthday, wife or husband’s names, what their children are doing, favorite hobbies, etc.).  As much as anything else, this shows our team that we care for them as individuals.


3.   Pause

As leaders, we are always on stage.  As such, we need to be thoughtful and avoid any kind of outburst or negativity.  We can never react to what has happened or what someone else has done or said.  To avoid reacting, we need to pause before responding.  We need to pause, count silently to five in our heads, and then quietly address the problem or issue while always trying to determine the way forward without pointing fingers at whoever may be responsible.

The silent count to five makes such a positive response possible:

  1. It allows the quiet burst of anger welling inside of us to subside preventing us from doing anything rash that we may later regret
  2. It lets us think through our response
  3. It gives good example by showing our clear-headedness and thoughtfulness (even in adversity) to the other members of our team


What other “cheats” might you use?  I welcome your thoughts and insights.


About David Shedd

David has been a President - CEO - COO of an up to $350M group of manufacturing, distribution, specialty retail and services companies, having led 22 different businesses from turnarounds to start-ups to fast growth companies.
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