Guest post from Dr. Ian Hesketh and Sir Cary Cooper:
Which style of leadership behaviour is the most effective has been the challenge for most executives for many years. Trying to meet the challenges of modern-day working practices and the demands of a 24hr global demand under increasing constraints is a real conundrum. Ethical Leadershipis proven to improve employee wellbeing and promotes extra-role effort. Further, ethical leadership can decrease emotional exhaustion and increase work engagement. It can also result in a willingness from employees to make suggestions to improve the organization. Our experience is that the concept of feeling trusted in the workplace magnifies ethical leadership and can also result in further extra-role effort. So, what are these concepts and how easy is it to implement them?
The great news is that these are easily learned and adaptable to all workplace settings. Ethical leadership is the notion that the leadership approach involves promoting ethical standards in organizations and encourages followers to behave more ethically. Although historically it is born out of the philosophical concept that it improves wellbeing, it has been popularized of late due to questionable business practices and huge corporate scandals; together with evidence that it improves both employee wellbeing and organizational performance.
Here is why. Ethical leadership leads to increased extra role effort. That is, what employees are prepared to do that is above and beyond what is expected of them by their employees. It also leads to employees feeling trusted to make decisions on their own that are appreciated and acknowledged by their employees. Further, it leads to reduced occurrences of feeling emotionally exhausted, that is the cognitive or physical strain that one feels from workplace pressures. It also leads to increased employee engagement, this is the way employees view their work as a positive challenge and are prepared to interact, to suggest new ideas and feel part of the organization. For example, employees are more likely to speak highly of their employer, both inside and outside of work. Employees are more likely to promote the business; and encourage other colleagues to do so also.
What to look out for? Ethical leaders are people-oriented. They look out for the long-term interests of colleagues and are unwavering in this quest. They authentically promote ethical behaviours, both inside and outside of the workplace. They live their own lives ethically. They make fair and balanced decisions.
To conclude, ethical leadership is good news for all business and for successful organizations is being proactively sought after. If you have leadership responsibilities or are concerned with human resource management and are recruiting or promoting your next tranche of leaders, look for the qualities outlined in this short article. These qualities in leaders can result in sustainable high performance. In this high performing environment you will witness employee pride in working for a reputable organization. One in which people are attracted to be part of and speak highly of both inside and outside of the organization. If this is your goal, ethical leadership is the way to go.
Ian Hesketh, PhD and Sir Cary Cooper, CBE are the authors of WELLBEING AT WORK: How to Design, Implement and Evaluate an Effective Strategy. Both are associated with the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing at Work (UK). For more information visit: https://www.koganpage.com/product/wellbeing-at-work-9780749480684