On Leadership and Ethics: The Great 8 Habits

Right or Wrong? Right or Left?

Your values, code of ethics, and the internalization of the same are the basis for your development of conscience. Ethics have to come from the inside out, not from the outside in. 

According to Aristotle, we can grow and expand in our virtuous behavior through habit.

Aristotle states:

“Neither by nature, then, nor contrary to nature do the virtues arise in us; rather we are adapted by nature to receive them, and are made perfect by habit.”

The Great 8 Habits

Start building ethical habits by using these 8 reflection points each day:

1. Find every opportunity to practice the virtues of integrity, trustworthiness, honesty and compassion.

2. Ask yourself this: “How is my organization better today because I am in it?”  And “In what ways?

3. Weigh out your actions  in order to cause more good than harm.  (Consider the short-term vs. long-term consequences of your actions.)

4. Ask yourself this: “How am I a better person because I am part of this organization?

5.  Remember to treat each person with the dignity and respect that every human being deserves.

6. Be aware of whom you benefit, whom you burden , and how that decision is made.

7.  Find and name strengths of the organization  that can help you become more human.

8. Practice getting beyond your own interests to make the organization stronger.

Making Them Real

Would you like to make these 8 habits part of you life so that you can better lead others? Then work to mentally internalize these ethics and values. You will need to make them a natural part of your decision-making process.

It has been said that “Ethics are what you do even when nobody is looking.”

When you internalize your code of ethics—when principles like honesty, decency, and looking out for the other team member form the basis of your daily decisions and actions—then you can make the tough choices with more confidence. I’m not going to kid you: even when you have a clear code of ethics to guide you, the tough choices aren’t any less difficult; they’re just clearer.

Often the “right” course is simply the one that will cause less damage in the long-term.

Short and Long-Term Thinking

For example, the ethical choice may mean you refuse to support your boss in fudging figures on a report.

~ In the short-term this might cause a rift between you and your boss, perhaps even make you both look bad to company management.

~But in the long-term your credibility (as well as your boss’s integrity) will be less damaged by telling the truth than by lying and possibly getting caught.

Once we have internalized our personal code of conduct, then comes the hard part: we must choose to abide by those ethics and values in each situation that arises.

Remember, ethics are honesty; not just in principle, but in action.

Frank Bucaro
 is President at Frank C. Bucaro and Associates, Inc. 

He is leading the crusade for ethics in business and leadership
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook Web

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9 responses to “On Leadership and Ethics: The Great 8 Habits

  1. This is a very good posting of simple, yet critical, reminders that can help all leaders find happiness in their jobs because it focuses on what we have to give. I really appreciated the point about looking for opportunities to practice integrity, trustworthiness, honesty, and compassion because I have experienced that it is all too easy to go with the flow of getting business done and lose the ability to display the very characteristics that define good leadership. It’s about making a conscious effort to display these at all times, going beyond our personal interests, to make a successful impact within our personal careers and within the organization. I feel that as I try to practice these habits, I will become less selfish in my focus of I will gain throughout my career.


    • Eleather,
      Thanks you for your very kind comments. I truly appreciate you taking the time to do so. If I can ever be of help in research.resources or programming on values-based leadership development, please don’t hesitate to to let me know.


  2. Great post, Frank. Totally consistent with everything that we’re discovering in the world of neuro-axiology for how value generation is maximized at all levels. Brilliant!


    • Thanks Peter for your comments. I truly appreciate it. If I can eve be of service with researhc,. resouces or programming on values-based leadership development, please let me know.


  3. A friend pointed me to this blog and I like what you have said here.

    Being unethical is like biting your fingernails. You KNOW it’s not good for you but it takes a LOT of work to truly break that habit! Persistence in wanting to change is a critical early step in your success.



  4. Frank.

    I think your Great 8 are sensational. Bringing our human wholeness to the workplace is essential for the organization’s and our own growth along with our colleagues. I think many organizations are weeping for this.

    Thanks for the inspiration!


  5. Excellent list, Frank. I like that it is all based on being personally ethical whether or not your organization is. And it is positive and forward-looking.


  6. Pingback: Business Ethics: Conflicts of Interest and Religion | Philosopher's Haze·

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