Understanding the principles of ethical leadership

Ethical leadership is when business leaders demonstrate appropriate conduct - in accordance with recognized principles and values - both inside and outside of the office.

The acronym, FATHER is the most commonly associated framework which best explains the principles of ethical leadership.

Ethical leadership is when business leaders demonstrate appropriate conduct. [iStockphoto]

Here's the breakdown:

  1. Fairness

Fairness is a core ethical leadership attribute. Fairness is about how humans interact with each other and expect to be treated. We expect to be treated fairly and in return we treat others fairly.

There is no place for favouritism in fairness when the situation is the same for everyone, and equally, fairness is also related to how you discipline someone.

If two people commit the same error, then they need to be punished the same way.

  1. Accountability

Being accountable for poor decisions and mistakes is a good thing; this is another important attribute of ethical leadership.

Some of us make a mistake and like to move on quickly, others like to blame someone or even the gods. But taking accountability for a mistake shows you are a strong, well-rounded leader who people would like to follow.

  1. Trust

You can't have a great team without trust.

How can you be expected to complete work if you don't trust that your team won't use it, or claim it as their own?

Trust is integral to the way we live and work. It is vital for the development of high-performing teams.

  1. Honesty

We all appreciate it when people are honest with us, so when our leaders are, what does that do? It creates an environment where we can openly discuss important issues.

This feeds directly into trust, and if you can't be honest with someone then trust is eroded and you can't hear the truth in that discussion either.

  1. Equality

There has been much discussion about equality in our day-to-day lives but equality forms the basis of our survival and happiness.

No one wants to be treated as unequal and discrimination against a myriad of things does nothing to either help us in both our survival and happiness.

Discrimination shows that you are working with someone who is not well-rounded, ethical or moral whatsoever.

Working with ethical leaders means that the playing field is the same in their eyes, and in turn, fosters an attitude that looks at these issues with the same level of respect around the team.

  1. Respect

The art of respectful disagreement has been lost. There are hundreds of YouTube videos designed to show us how we can do it - that is how toxic some discussions in the world have become.

Respect at its core is that whilst you may not agree with the other person, you show regard for their wishes, feelings and rights.