Ethics are one of the key secrets to the success factor of effective leaders. The best leaders exhibit both their core values and their ethics in their leadership style. Hence our ethics and values are far more visible than some realise as they are lived through our every day way of being and actions.

Where values are a measure of importance, ethics represent our judgments about right and wrong. The close relationship between importance and right and wrong is a powerful influencer on our behaviour and how we evaluate the behaviour of others. For those who are really interested to know, we can take it a step further and introduce principles, which guide our choice of desirable behavioural constraints (morals, ethics, rules, laws, etc.).

So values motivate and ethics, being connected to morals, constrain. We know values describe what is important in a person’s life, and ethics prescribe what is or is not considered appropriate behaviour in living one’s life.

Ethics then become the standards by which behaviours are evaluated for their morality – their rightness or wrongness. Imagine a person who has a strong value of achievement and success. Knowing only that this value is important to them gives us a general expectation of their behaviour, i.e. we would expect them to be goal oriented, gaining the skills necessary to get what they want, etc. However, we cannot know whether they will lie or cheat to get what they want or “do an honest day’s work each day”. The latter dimension is a matter of ethics and morality.

Hence walking our talk as a leader is of great ethical importance. When discounted it leads to the lack of trust such as is all too common in many organisations. Saying one thing and doing another damages relationships and sometimes forever. However when leaders open up and share their values and ethics, it provides themselves and their teams with the opportunity to up-level everything they have been doing.

For many leaders, this type of transparency is a very vulnerable step but when done from a place of deep authenticity, it builds respect and integrity, deepens relationships, clarifies principles, deepens synergy and creates miracles. This depth of authenticity makes for far more than a productive workplace. This fascinating leadership topic is covered in Beyond Thinking on day 2 and 3.

As a leader, make sure you have identified the values and ethics that are most important to you, the values and ethics that you believe in and that define your character. Then be aware of how you live them visibly every day at work. Living your values is one of the most powerful tools available to you to help you lead and influence others. Don’t miss your best opportunity to ethically and deeply engage the minds and hearts of your colleagues and customers.

Warm regards


Great supportive article written by Keith Norris; In his influential book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey outlined the difference between principles and values. In Covey’s view, principles are rules or laws that are permanent, unchanging, and universal in nature. Values are internal and subjective, and they may change over time…