Leadership and Reshaping an Unethical Organizational Culture
Leaders are given the immense responsibility of directing an organization in following highly ethical culture and principles. And to a recently appointed leader tasked to head a long-standing organization that have established beliefs and principles, changing culture and norms to make the group observe purely ethical behavior is a challenge.
Leaders should start reshaping an organization’s unethical culture by creating a clear, formal, and documented morality standards that the whole organization is required to abide by. The leader has to make it clear that the newly devised ethical code will become the basis of all decisions, activities, and tendencies of all the members of the group. It is also the leader’s responsibility to properly inform his members of this new code – and he has to do it in such a way that everyone understands its full essence. For that, group trainings and an open communication between leaders and members are going to be necessary. Ethical violations are rarely the work of a single person. More often than not, the formation of unethical organizational culture is a result of interaction of members who have liberally restructured the company’s values for their own benefit (Turner, 2007).
Leaders should also watch out for red flags wherein unethical behaviors are likely to develop. He or she could build a department that would serve as watchdogs. Doing so would show members that their leader is serious when it comes to matters regarding to the practice of business and social ethics inside the organization. Watchdogs are there to handle all present and apparent cases of harassment and discrimination – things the company doesn’t tolerate. The transformation of an unethical organization to a highly moral one is not to happen overnight. Rather, it is a product of the unrelenting effort to support and embed principled behavior to members (Sims, 2000).
But all of these are steps are going to be irrelevant if the leader himself is not a fountain of ethical procedures. Much of the leader’s success in shaping an organization relies on his moral foundation and preferences. A leader’s vision has a lot to do with his policies and programs. Before he can impose on his members, he has to show each and every one of them that he follows his own policies. This is the only way his constituents would be able to adapt the morality clauses he infuses to the organization. And his overall success depends on his ability to motivate the members to embrace an ethically correct culture out of their own volition at all times (Bass & Steidlmeier, 1999).
Bass, B. M., & Steidlmeier, P. (1999). Ethics, Character, and Authentic Transformational Leadership. Leadership Quarterly, 10(2), 181-217.
Sims, R. R. (2000). Changing an Organization’s Culture Under New Leadership. Journal of Business Ethics, 25(1), 68-78.
Turner, F. (2007). Workplace Ethics – On the Decline? The CEO Refresher. 13(5.1).