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9 Examples of Ethical Leadership in the Workplace
by Brett Farmiloe
February 25, 2024
Manager shakes hands with factory worker

Quality of leadership plays a huge role in the success of a business. Employees look to their bosses to set the tone and the character of the organization as a whole. Therefore, it is crucial that office leadership displays ethical behavior.

What is ethical leadership and how do you incorporate it?

We asked nine thought leaders to share examples of ethical leadership in the workplace to help you improve your role as a leader.   

9 Examples of Ethical Leadership in the Workplace

Trust Yourself and Your Instincts

Doing the right thing even when it feels hard or unpopular is the definition of ethical leadership. Even if the people you work with might be upset with a decision you make, trust your instincts, have courage, and think through each decision you make as an ethical leader logically instead of emotionally.
- Dan Reck, MATClinics

Surround Yourself With Other Ethical People

Ethical leaders have an easier job when they hire ethical employees. Leaders should seek to maintain a diverse work culture where employees put great importance on company ideals and values while still feeling free to bring different perspectives to the team.
- Ryan Nouis, TruPath

People, Process, and Technology

First, leaders can get trapped in the smoke and mirrors of "you wouldn't understand, it's technical" used by some vendors and techies to create a smoke and mirrors game that masks core issues with a project. Leaders need to be accountable for every day and dollar regardless of what they are being told. Second, leaders need to make sure that no matter how cool technology may be, it needs to be used, benefit the end-user, and be measured for effectiveness. Technology has tripped up as many leaders as it has catapulted.
- Amy Feind Reeves, JobCoachAmy

Prepare and Rehearse

Have a clear plan of how you would handle certain ethical scenarios if they were to present themselves. Rehearse the hard conversations, and write down the steps you would like to take depending on the situation. In an ethical crisis, there might not be a lot of time to weigh out your decision. An ethical leader is well prepared and has plans in place for how to handle tough decisions.
- Kimberly Kriewald, AVANA Capital

Requirements Change

Rather than pushing ahead and demanding terms previously agreed upon are met (which is short-term thinking), the right action may be to end the work for now and re-approach in the future. This gives the client space to focus on what is critical and creates a true partnership for the long term.
- Nicole Spracale, Nicole Spracale Coaching & Consulting

Keep the Basic Human Fundamentals

People want leaders they can relate to, show and demonstrate legitimate empathy, and not only give clarity on outcomes and goals - but care about their individual goals and outcomes too.

Technology is important, however, these are tools to enhance the fundamentals of being a good leader and human. Ethical leadership is giving people these tools, but not straying away from truly caring and human connection.
- Khabeer Rockley, The 5% Institute

Responsibility Toward the Customer

Ethical leadership for me is all about putting customers first. It's about training your team to always do what's right for the customer, no matter what it takes. For example, we have a goal to answer all customer support queries within 12 hours because we've found that this is extremely important for customer retention. That's what ethical leadership is for me - showing the employees that they have a responsibility towards the customer and not their manager.
- Jane Kovalkova, Chanty

Complete Transparency

One key aspect of ethical leadership is complete transparency. All employees should be kept informed about what the company is doing and how we’re getting there, from interns to directors. Transparency fosters trust and goes beyond making promises by actively maintaining constant communication throughout the company.
- Emily Bosak, Markitors

Remind Employees of Their Worth

It can be easy for a leader to feel the need to smother employees by monitoring their every minute of technology use. With my employees, I have found it a better use of resources to remind them of their worth to the business. I let them know that no one is looking over their shoulder. However, I empower them to own their worth to the entire organization.
- Cade Parian, Parian Injury Law, LLC

About the author
Brett Farmiloe
Brett Farmiloe is the Founder & CEO of Terkel, a Q&A site that converts insights from small business owners into high-quality articles for brands. Brett Farmiloe Founder & CEO,
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712 H St NE PMB 98848
Washington, DC 20002

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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

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