Shout and give orders and people will fear you. Motivate and toil with others and everyone will respect you.
One who aims to be a good leader shouldn’t only incite fear. Instead, he should endeavor to gain his subordinates’ trust and respect. However, without a measure of ethical standards and the willingness to adhere to such, this will not be feasible.
But what is ethics? Many would rather scoff at this topic and think that in this world, there really is no clear demarcation line between what should be done and what should not be done; some might even reason that sometimes we need to be crook to get what we want. But the truth is, to be in a position of honor, trust and respect means to exert oneself in the narrow gate of ethical and high-minded life.
Ethics, like most books and even real life experiences would show, brings positive results on anyone who adheres to it. It makes one systematic, instilling in him the ability to follow a certain set of strategies and significant steps in order to achieve whatever objective he has set. Moreover, it makes one a responsible and better person, making him more vigilant and careful knowing that his actions and decisions, big or small will always have an impact on others. Ethics therefore is anything one, especially someone who claims to be a leader, ought to do to be professional.
A leader is someone who is not only focused on implementing rules and plans. He is someone who convinces a group of skilled or even inexperienced individuals to do and be better. He propels the people he’s working with to achieve what might at the onset seemed unreachable. And how can ethics help him improve his craft?
When guided by sound and ethical principles, he can become someone who doesn’t only stand in front of his people, like an owner would do to his servants, whipping them with his rod of blunt instructions as to what direction they should take or how far they should go. Instead, he becomes someone who stands beside his own subordinates, taking them by their hands and uttering words of comfort and encouragement as they walk toward their destination, like a father would do to his dear child.
A leader is probably a head of a company, or an administrator of an institution or a supervisor of a particular department. Whatever he is leading, he might be tempted to abuse his power and enjoy its benefits. But ethical principles would hinder one from doing such. They would remind him to say no to very enticing yet ill rewards of his power – bribe money, sexual favors, privileges that present clear conflict of interest, or even the use of profane and obnoxious words when talking to the members of his team. They would make him stay true to his words – giving to his people the incentives he has promised to give them. His ethical principles will teach him to be just in all his dealings, to be more credible, believable.
When making decisions, he would see to it that it will be for the benefit of everyone and would welcome suggestions and even feedbacks if possible. He would always aim to come up with a fair judgment. He doesn’t accept credits for well accomplished works but puts the blame on his people when plans have failed. Instead, he declares every achievement a product of everyone’s earnest efforts.
His aim is not to be popular among his staff. His aim is to make his staff realize their own potentials and hone their own talents so they too can become leaders someday by setting a good example for them to follow.
But these might not always be easy for everyone. Aristotle once said “Unless you have a good character yourself, actions won’t be truly righteous or virtuous.”
Everyone may have the desire to lead, but not everyone will be worthy and qualified for such task. Without a good character, someone will only dominate his fellowman to his injury. But a good character, as we all know, cannot be obtained overnight. Strong and ethical principles in life are but the result of rigorous training that mainly has something to do with constantly doing what is upright.
So for anyone who would dare to assume a leader’s position someday, it will do him well to start training his conscience to reject selfish and injurious pursuits and to always uphold lofty moral standards because it is only through such that one can be truly followed, be appreciated and be worthy of respect.