Entrepreneurship, Leadership, and Ethics: Finding the Balance 

posted by Chris Valentine

If you have recently started your own small business and you are managing a staff for the first time, you have probably already considered everything you will need to succeed: working capital, trustworthy investors, an exciting product or service, and employees who are ready and willing to work for and believe in your company. While all of these components are important, including ethics and morality in your business plan may strengthen your chances of long-term entrepreneurial success. As you work toward building your business, here are several ways you can strengthen your leadership abilities through practicing positive business ethics.


Be the Example Your Employees Need
Even if your company has a brand that does not carry your name, you are, for all intents and purposes, the face of your company. As such, your ethics and behavior directly mirror what your company stands for and how your employees view it. For example, if your work ethic includes a strong focus on safety, then you should make a point to follow the rules you have set and avoid perpetuating the idea that they apply to everyone but the boss. When you respect a certain work ethic, your employees are more likely to have more respect for you as a leader.
When you lead by example when it comes to the ethics you have set up for your company, the better the odds are that this will have a positive impact at every level. For example, if you show honesty in daily dealings with your employees, this may prompt your salespeople to be more honest with their clients, which may help foster a better and more trusting business relationship. A negative outlook, cynicism, and a disregard for honesty in you as a leader may trickle down to each of your employees, which can seriously damage morale.

Strive for Success, but with Morality
As an entrepreneur, financial independence is probably a high priority for you. After all, this is one of the main reasons people go into business for themselves and why there are more entrepreneurs in America than ever, according to a 2013 report from Forbes. However, when you focus too much on profit, this may damage your work ethic and your ability to lead. As such, motivating your employees in a way that fosters personal growth, not the financial bottom line, is important in your role as leader.
To illustrate the importance of this point, consider the following scenario: during daily meetings and in memos, you place a heavy emphasis on making a profit and urge your sales department to make their quota in any way they can. They begin to look for shortcuts, which may cause them to lower their work ethics and even their personal morals in order to make sales. In time, you might find yourself losing customers because they no longer trust your company or what it stands for. While the chance for financial success is an exciting prospect, as a leader, your ethics should come first.

Encourage an Ethic of Aspiration
Promoting positivity through ethics means more than communicating honesty to your employees. You are also in a position to reward those who display an excellent work ethic and who are committed to doing their best each and every day. This will send the message that your own ethics are not based on discipline alone and that you are aware of when your employees do well. The connection between fostering an ethic of aspiration and employee happiness is a strong one, as when they see positive ethics are rewarded, they will want to strive for the same kind of recognition.

Look to Others for Examples
Because you are a new business owner, you may be unsure about where to look for inspiration when it comes to building the right kind of ethics for your company. However, there are examples to be found all around you, and taking a cue from CEOs of major companies may help. For example, the Eugene Chrinian Twitter, which features tweets about business and leadership ethics that have their roots in Christian values, is run by the CEO of Ashley Furniture HomeStores and may serve as a springboard for fostering similar values in your own business.
While it is perfectly viable to allow the ideas and ethics of other business owners to inspire you, remember that putting your own personal spin on it is vital when it comes to giving your company its own identity. After all, other people’s work ethics and personal morals are the result of their own experiences, so it may be best that yours are as well. A blend of borrowed ideas and your own enthusiasm for leadership are sure to create a company ethic that is uniquely your own.
Finding a balance between ethics and entrepreneurship can be a serious challenge, but if you create a business plan that includes the morals and work ethics you truly believe in from the very start, the process may not be as difficult. As your business grows, keeping a strong connection between these beliefs and the kind of leader you want to be can help bring about more positive results and success for your company.

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