The diamond of ethical leadership

The importance of ethics in organizations is indisputable. It is also indisputable that managers fulfill a crucial role in ensuring and enhancing the ethics of their organization. But what exactly is the role of managers? How ethical are they and how can they develop and enhance their personal ethics and the ethics of the organization?

Many organizations are struggling with these questions at the moment. Is ethics and integrity not a highly personal matter? Is the focus on enhancing ethics and integrity not intimidating? Is it at all possible to improve personal ethics and integrity? And how can an environment be created that allows managers to examine their ethics in a critical and constructive manner?

The diamond of ethical leadership is a model I developed for assessing and improving the ethics and integrity of managers are presented (which is discussed in detail in my book “The Six Principles for Managing with Integrity”). Managers with integrity are not only focused on enhancing and managing the integrity of employees and the organization. They also have personal integrity. The Diamond of Managerial Integrity reflects these two dimensions and comprises six principles.

The Diamond of Managerial Integrity

What are the six characteristics of the manager with integrity? My recent booklet, The Six Principles, discusses these characteristics in detail. Below follows a brief summary of the characteristics, starting with three principles that render a manager a person with integrity.

The manager as a person of integrity

First and foremost, managers with integrity are Authentic. They know what they believe in and what their goals are. Managers with integrity are solid. Rather than hiding behind others, they clearly indicate which practices they won’t engage in. They have character and a conscience.

Secondly, managers with integrity are also Reliable. They are capable of resisting temptation and pressure from others. They are coherent and consistent. They are not at the beck and call of others and won’t abandon their principles merely for the sake of financial gain.

Finally, managers with integrity are Constructive. Managers with integrity view the organization as a means to create value for society in general and stakeholders in particular. Managers with integrity are part of the community and pay heed to stakeholder interests and concerns. They know what others expect of them and their organization. They are capable of reconciling conflicting interests or realizing a balance between conflicting demands.

The manager as manager of integrity

The three principles as described above, determine whether the manager is a person with integrity. Next to this, it is important that managers stimulate employees to conduct themselves with integrity. Managers with integrity are capable of managing integrity and should therefore also possess the following three characteristics.

Managers with integrity have a Gentle hand. They inspire, stimulate and mobilize commitment to the realization of organizational responsibilities among employees. Managers with integrity do not merely subscribe to the notion that “It’s a question of trusting your employees.” No, on the contrary, they regard integrity in the workplace as something that can be organized without employees perceiving it as a ‘motion of distrust’.

At the same time managers with integrity have a Protective hand. They never expose their employees to risks and temptations that are too hard to resist. They set clear limits for their employees – for instance by means of a code of conduct – and set realistic targets.

Finally, managers with integrity have a Firm hand. Managers with integrity are willing to discipline employees who overstep the mark. They are therefore alert to signals of unethical conduct. Turning a blind eye is not part of their repertoire.

The Diamond of Managerial Integrity offers managers a model to evaluate their level of ethics and integrity with reference to each of the six principles and to improve it. In this way, the personal integrity of the manager and the integrity of the organization are feasible, improvable, and measurable.