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Use strategy to build an ethical organization

Leanne Hoagland-Smith. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media

Leanne Hoagland-Smith. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media

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So how does one create an ethical organization? Being an avid book reader, possibly this book, “From Values to Action,” by Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr. may support you and your business in that effort.

There are a plethora of leadership books. This is one of the few that places business ethics as the most essential leadership skill. Through the sharing of his personal experiences, Kraemer has clearly articulated four principles of values-based leadership:

1. Self-reflection

2. Balance

3. True Self-confidence

4. Genuine humility

Kraemer made an incredibly strong evidence-based case as to how positive core business ethics create greater shareholder value. In doing so, he distinguished between “What is legal” and “What is right.”

If people are what drive any business to achieve those big, hairy audacious goals, then leading from a values-based leadership perspective is almost as they say a “no brainer.” This approach works with the current talent management and leadership development movements that are gaining more and more ground within business operations.

Another almost “no brainer” is management, from the C Suite down, must own the leadership in the organization. The sometimes common practice of handing leadership development off to Human Resources or any other department is fundamentally wrong because usually the wrong people are in the wrong seats.

If you have observed silo thinking and silo doing, this is a result of leadership that is not coming from a values-based perspective. Silo thinking happens because leadership has allowed “my turf” or “my silo” to become bigger than the organization’s vision.

Business ethics is closely related to having a clear direction. The Rev. Theodore Hesburgh once said, “No one can follow an uncertain trumpet.” Kraemer shared Edison’s belief of “make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler.”

Additional observation that Kraemer shared is how feedback comes from a safe environment where people feel comfortable in speaking up. Effective communication must be “clear, simple, straightforward and concise.”

To ensure effective communication Kraemer provided these three suggestions:

1 - Communicate three times as often in bad times

2 – Relate to people

3 – Be human

The end result from values to action is all about execution. Kraemer believes that failed execution can more often than not be laid at the feet of leadership and not extenuating circumstances.

If you want simple, direct and just plain common sense as to how to ensure the consistent application of ethics and beliefs, read his book. The added benefit is if you take action you will probably improve your overall leadership skills.

As the end of the year is fast approaching, December’s columns will focus on reflection.

P.S. Shout Out: P&H Printers in Whiting and a special congratulations to Boy Conn Printers of Valparaiso for celebrating 50 years in business.



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