Business leaders and decision makers often have to balance different demands and ethical imperatives. Sometimes there is no way to make a decision that is completely agreeable to all parties involved. However, by being aware of the ethical impact of your leadership role, you can make the best decisions possible -- not only for your business, but for your own well-being and the well-being of those around you.


One of the most important ethical principles behind leadership is commitment. First and foremost, this means a commitment to the well-being and advancement of the organization. This often seems cold and detached, as profits and expansion can eclipse personal emotional needs. However, to avoid contradictions, you must commit, in your capacity as a leader, to sound business practices first and foremost. This eliminates complications with conflicts of interest, owing favors to others and your own ego. Putting the business first is actually an effective way to be fair and unbiased in your role while maximizing success.


Integrity is rooted in fairness, and even when practiced in difficult situations, it can create long-term benefits for your company. Integrity means being truthful with everyone involved and doing what you say you are going to do. If you need to let someone go, do it directly rather than harming them and the company by putting it off. If you need to break bad news to investors, do it immediately rather than risking their hostility and a total collapse of funding when the truth finally emerges. Leading with integrity means your actions match your words and you take full responsibility for your actions.


You want your business to be as successful and profitable as possible -- that is not only natural but also fair. However, profits are not your company's sole reason for existing. This kind of tunnel vision can have a negative effect on your business. Ethical leaders make key decisions after considering the ramifications for third parties. Just because a decision is profitable doesn't mean you should do it. By considering others, even those who are not directly involved, you not only do the right thing, you also set yourself up to be recognized and supported by the community, rather than opposed and hated by it -- which, in the long run, leads to continued success and eventual profitability.


The basic principle behind modern business is that work gets done better and faster by a group. That's why you lead a business rather than just fending for yourself. Ethical leadership demands that you cultivate and nurture relationships with everyone you work with. Good relationships with your employees will set a good example for them. Considering the needs of your workforce inspires loyalty and commitment. Finally, there is no substitute for an enthusiastic, open and caring workplace. The benefits are not restricted to feeling good at work. When employees feel part of a caring environment, collaboration and productivity soar.