Leaders must ensure that they not only lead by example, but also ensure that employees do the right thing and create a culture that calls out unethical behaviours.
Ethics and the behaviours of your people can often underpin the culture of your organisation.
The individual characters and behaviours of all of your people contribute to how your organisation works as a whole with internal and external stakeholders (AKA customers) and sets the blueprint for how your brand is perceived in the market place.
"An ethical leader is someone who lives and dies for integrity. Doing the right thing, even when it hurts, is the ethical leader's mantra."
Like so many other things, we lead by example. Setting the expectations for ethical behaviours starts in the boardroom and is then pushed and governed throughout the organsiation.
If you set the framework for an ethical culture but only govern it you may as well not bother.
Peter Pearce listed nine principles in an AICD article for an ethical culture that directors and boards might find useful:
Act with reason
Act for purpose
Act on defined values
Foster internal transparency
Do no harm
Protect the future
MIT wrote a paper (Measuring Culture in Leading Companies) that identified values which mattered the most (they got 9 from 60) cited most by companies in the Culture 500.
In short acting with integrity (doing the right thing even when no one is watching) may not just help you sleep better at night but might also do wonders for your culture, brand and EVP.