Recently, news has been filled with accusations of moral misconduct by executives. Acts of sexual misconduct, racial/religious discrimination, creating fake accounts, and selling personal information have left a heightened taste of distrust in the mouths of consumers. What effect does it have on employees?
In a recent study of 3,300 full-time employees conducted by Dale Carnegie, a key component of employee engagement was belief in leadership. What the survey showed however, is that only 30% of employees from around the world always trusted their supervisor to say and do things consistent with their beliefs. In fact, 64% of employees who responded that their leader is rarely or never honest with themselves (do what they say), said they were currently looking for another job. The unethical behavior of leaders creates low employee trust levels and a culture of disengagement.
Senior leaders must create a culture of integrity and trust for their organizations to stay viable in today’s world. Unfortunately, culture can’t be dictated or mandated. It must be cultivated over time. More specifically, the senior leadership team must demonstrate through consistent action and communication the culture they desire, for it to take root and spread.
Here are five things the senior leadership team can do to create an ethical culture:
- Executive Buy-in: Senior leadership is the most influential part of cultivating culture. They must meet and agree on the culture they want to create, and how it should be communicated and infused into the organization.
- Create an Action Plan: All leaders in the organization need to be on the same page with what steps should be taken to ensure consistency of culture across the organization.
- Embody the Culture: Leadership must be a shining example of the culture they want to create. In other words, they can’t just “talk the talk”, they must “walk the walk”.
- Checks & Balances: Leadership should have a standing bi-weekly culture plan review to evaluate the adoption of the culture into each department and hold each other accountable to implementing the action plan.
- Recognize Cultural Success – Leadership should recognize employees/teams that emulate and embody the desired culture to help drive performance.
When leaders cultivate an environment of trust, the results are three-fold. Not only does it drive ethical behavior, it also engages employees and drives organizational performance.