10 Things Your Competitors Can Teach You About Ethics

The backbone of any organization or business are its people.  Regardless of the role, the organization is only as strong as it’s weakest link.  Therefore, an organizations commitment to ethics including the growth of both workers and managers is critical. This is why no company can afford having disengaged employees and broken relationships inside of their work environment.

But, how can you, as a business manager or owner, make sure that your employees keep their dedication towards work, their coworkers and the whole business in general? Like it or not, there are a lot of things you can learn from your rivals, about how you can handle human relations inside your own company. I’m not saying that you should completely copy the models other companies have established, however, you can certainly learn from them and apply the knowledge earned to your own company. Each company has its own story and is consisted out of different kinds of people. The key factor towards getting your personnel on the same page is establishing proper business ethics. This applies to you and your employees likewise. Here are some things you should look to adopt.

  1. Honesty

Ethical leaders and executives should always be truthful and honest and they should not mislead their coworkers by overstating facts, lying, misrepresenting things or in any other way possible.  Most companies (and I say most with some trepidation) are honest.  There are those however that find honesty lacking – example: Volkswagen.  Here was a brand that had a positive worldwide reputation and found quickly the impact that dishonest behavior can have.

  1. Loyalty

Ethical leaders are always the ones people trust. At all times, they demonstrate loyalty and fidelity to people and organizations by devoting to them with the utmost care. These people never abuse the information they learned in personal conversations in order to get ahead. They make professional judgment that cannot be influenced by greed or personal gain.  The challenge we often find in business is the manager that “requires” loyalty at all costs.  Loyalty earned by the power of ethical and moral choices is powerful.  Loyalty demanded regardless of the ethical choice made can be damaging.  The value of loyalty is determined by the person or persons one is loyal to.

  1. Trustworthiness

For an executive to be ethical, it means that people must have faith in him. These kinds of executives always say the right things and they fulfill the promises they made to the organization and its people. Even when they make poor judgment, they must be professional and admit their mistakes, rather than coming up with excuses.  Trust is the foundation of all relationships.  Trust is generally given but easily broken.  It is critical to never under estimate the power and value of trust.  I know…having broken trust I lost my job, my career and my marriage – all things I held dear.

  1. Integrity

Integrity is a quality many companies cherish. People with integrity have the courage to act on their beliefs, even when there is a lot of pressure on them to do otherwise. These people have strong principles and they defend them with honor. A person of this kind is less likely to be hypocritical or gullible.  Having integrity means doing the right thing in a reliable way.  The challenge with Integrity is relying on your own internal instincts to determine what is “acting with integrity” vs having others define integrity for you.

  1. Fairness

Fairness is something that can bring harmony to an organization. People who are fair will treat everyone equally and they will not abuse their power just because they don’t like someone personally. When all of them are treated equally, they will feel respected and reputable.

  1. Concern for others

People who care for others are less likely to mistreat someone and they will establish better connections within the workplace. These kinds of people are not suitable for corporate like businesses, as they do not look at people as numbers but as humans.  A great example of a company that has concern for others (namely their employees) is SAS in Cary, NC.  You don’t rank #2 in Fortune magazine as the best place to work without care and concern for others.

  1. Leadership

Every company needs people who have the ability to lead. These people have the potential to become role models and they can be the steam that drives others to work on themselves in order to achieve greater results in their career – this will have a positive effect on your company.  Examples where this is true would be Southwest Airlines/Gary Kelly ranked #7 in 2015 and General Electric/Jeffrey Immelt ranked #1.

  1. Commitment

People who are committed will always strive to do better and to help your company achieve success. A committed person is always working on his (her) performance and he (she) puts in constant effort to increase productivity.

  1. Respecting the law

Ethical people always abide by the law – regulations and rules – no matter if they concern their personal well being or the well being of the business organization. You can be sure that these kinds of people will conduct business deals responsibly.  Now most people will say they are ethical till faced with a significant personal challenge.  When life get’s out of balance the ethics challenge on a personal level comes into play.  It’s then that one finds out their true commitment to ethical behavior.  All too often folks, just like me, will take an unethical route if it seems that it bring life balance back more quickly.  The question about ethics isn’t speed but rather consistent choice regardless of the potential consequence.

  1. Reputation

Professionals who care about their image and how others perceive them will also care about the company’s reputation. They will never engage in any steps that may harm your business or scare potential customers away.

These are the 10 most important things you can learn about ethics from your competition. When investigating your competition try to look for patterns related to how these values manifest themselves within people and how it reflects on their business. Not only that you will be able to learn how these things do good, but you will also learn how they can do bad things to the business.

10 things your competitors can teach you about ethics seems simple, but the application can be quite the challenge.  So the question is – are you willing to provide the training needed for your most valuable asset – your employees – to become aware and apply these principles in their daily lives both personal and business?


by Chuck Gallagher in Business and Personal Ethics


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