How To Be An Ethical Leader During A Crisis
During times of crisis, it’s natural for our focus to become very singular. We go into survival mode, prioritising the things that will help us endure until life returns to normal.
While this is understandable, it’s often not the best course of action when it comes to people management.
Leaders who focus on saving the company at all costs may ensure it stays afloat during the storm, but end up paying the price when the dust settles and the bigger picture comes back into focus.
Ethical leadership is about balancing the needs of the business with those of your employees. It’s never an easy task, even at the best of times. But if you succeed, your team – and your business as a whole – will be stronger.
So, what does it look like to be an ethical leader? And how can you get the balance right amidst uncertainty?
Read on for our Spicey insight.
How To Be An Ethical Leader During A Crisis
Why Ethical Leadership Is Vital To Success
Can a business succeed if the leaders are unethical?
A recent study published in the Journal of Business Ethics reveals that it is possible, but only for a brief period. For long-term success, ethical leadership is vital. And this is even more important during times of crisis.
Ethical leaders are better at engaging and retaining staff, and a culture of ethical leadership ensures your business becomes an employer of choice.
People vs Profits
During the early days of the pandemic, things changed so rapidly that businesses were at risk of getting whiplash trying to keep up. And while we’re a way down the road from that now, an element of uncertainty is still present.
Decisions often need to be made rapidly, putting the pressure on managers. Amidst the unpredictability of life, employees look to leaders to provide clarity, honesty, and a sense of stability. Managers must rely on empathy to communicate with their teams, but need to retain a fact-based approach to assess business decisions.
And there are tough decisions to be made. Do you choose your employees over financial rewards? Profit over people? And where do you draw the line? How do you do the right thing when everything feels wrong?
Ethical leadership isn’t about perfection. Sometimes, the right decision isn’t necessarily the easiest or most comfortable one. But as long as managers are guided by ethics, their choices will be the right ones.
When your employees can see that you are doing your best by them, they tend to rally. There’s a bond created by feeling as if “we’re all in this together.” Instead of jumping ship during tough times due to a lack of faith in management, staff are more willing to make sacrifices to help the business survive.
Qualities Of An Ethical Leader
There’s no flowchart for ethical decision-making: every business and situation is unique. However, there are specific guidelines to help managers find their way to ethical leadership.
We love the V.I.T.A.L method referenced in an article by the Human Resources Director.
This method of crisis communication provides a roadmap to help business’s work through difficult times using five key concepts:
- Visibility – don’t hide behind others by delegating the uncomfortable discussions. Communicate with your people rapidly and often, even if it’s to let them know you are still waiting for more information.
- In It Together – always refer back to your business’ mission, vision and values. Create a culture of inclusion and empowerment.
- Transparency – share what you know, don’t hide bad news, address rumours, and keep your employees as informed as possible.
- Accessibility – be available for your people, and let them know where to turn when they have concerns or need support.
- Listening – really hear your people when they talk to you. Understand where they are coming from, and give them an outlet to speak up.
Remember, your customers and future potential employees are far more likely to remember how your business behaved during a crisis than how high your profits were during that year.
Ethical leaders must strive to model the values of their business when making difficult decisions. This means embracing integrity, authenticity, and compassion. It’s about being real with your team, especially during hard times.
Ethical leadership is as important to us as it is to you. Which is why we want to help you embody it within your HR policies. Reach out to us today to chat about how we can Spice you up as an ethical leader!