Why Business Ethics and Principled Leadership Matter

Updated on 15 April 2016

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Why business ethics and principled leadership matter now more than ever

It’s no secret that there is a crisis of leadership not only locally, but across the globe. One just has to look at recent events at FIFA, Volkswagen, and closer to home with SAA, Eskom and even South Africa’s very own presidential leadership, as examples of how important leadership is to organisational performance and sustainability.

What is becoming increasingly evident is that leaders, whether it be knowingly or unknowingly, have the capacity to make or break a business. In turbulent times, be it social, political or economic, can businesses – especially small businesses –  really afford not to invest in ensuring they have strong leaders at the helm, together with a clearly articulated leadership development strategy that ensures a strong pipeline of future leadership. This may be especially difficult for small business leaders, visualising someone else ‘running the show’, but needs to be done in order to ensure sustainability of the business in the long-run.

The leadership gap

To succeed in this regard, small business owners should ensure they are investing sufficient resources into not only taking stock of how they stand in terms of current leadership capacity but also putting sufficient measures in place to ensure that future leaders are identified and upskilled so that the businesses legacy is maintained.

That said, regardless of how much a business invests in gauging leadership performance and development, ultimately it comes down to individual leaders understanding that a crisis in leadership – in any business – generally always comes with some sort of economic and reputational cost.

When implementing leadership development strategies, these should be aligned with the overall strategy and culture of a business, alternatively jeopardizing growth and performance opportunities.

Back to basics

In a world exposed to ongoing change and disruption, the question arises as to what type of leadership traits will be required to build and grow successful businesses.

It comes as no surprise that a recent Harvard Business Review article found the most important leadership competencies, according to leaders around the world, to be high ethical and moral standards (67% selected it as one of the most important) and communicating clear expectations (56%).

Taking the current political and financial environment into account, it is now more important than ever for leaders to go back to basics – instilling high ethical and moral standards into their leadership style and ensuring it underpins every aspect of the organisational culture.

Every small business is founded with a vision in mind, greater than merely delivering on the bottom line. Current and future leaders will need to have the strength of character to take remedial action for the greater good of the business.

About the author: Kay Vittee is the CEO of Quest Staffing Solutions (Pty) Ltd one of South Africa’s leading staffing solutions provider. She’s a business woman holding a Masters in Business Administration, a B.Com (Banking and Economics) and various other financial and marketing qualifications. Kay’s business acumen and success have made her a sought after speaker and thought leader.

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