In a small business, the team leader for the organization as a whole is the owner. Ethics in a work setting are the standards of conduct -- right versus wrong behavior -- the owner of the company wants his team members to live up to. A team leader who consistently demonstrates great ethical standards of his own builds a more cohesive, harmonious organization with higher job satisfaction.


The high ethical standard set by the business owner provides his team members with clarity -- they know exactly what they should do from an ethical standpoint in all situations they will encounter at work. The business owner can provide even more clarity by creating a written code of ethics that each individual must follow. Not knowing what ethical standards they should follow causes stress for employees. They are unsure whether they are making the correct choices because they don’t know what the team leader expects of them. They may fear being punished or criticized for making the wrong choices. The team leader with great work ethics makes it a high priority to communicate ethical standards to team members.

Improved Staff Morale

Team members who do not adhere to the highest ethical standards when dealing with each other may cause conflict that results in lower morale among team members. Taking credit for others’ ideas or work product, for example, is one ethical lapse that can cause resentment. Forcing unfair workloads or task deadlines on team members also contributes to low morale. Team leaders with great work ethics create an atmosphere where team members are encouraged to come forward when they observe ethical lapses. These leaders solicit team members’ opinions about workloads and other issues that affect morale.

Less Pressure to Make Sales

In the sales and marketing function, an ethical dilemma that arises is the tension between the need to make a sale -- such as instances when a sales quota has been set -- and the need to be fair and honest with customers. The team leader with great ethics sets a good example by giving customers all the information they need to make a thoughtful buying decision, even if it results in losing a sale. Seeing this good example, the other team members will not feel pressured to make a sale when it is clearly the wrong decision for the customer based on his needs. The benefit to the organization is having a sales force focused on meeting customer needs, which results in higher customer satisfaction and retention.

Organizational Pride

The ethical standards exhibited by members of an organization become part of the company’s image in the marketplace. The team leader can help build organizational pride by letting employees know when they made the correct ethical choices and how their choices contributed to the company’s positive image among customers and within the community. A team leader with great ethics would create goals for raising the company’s ethical performance. For example, a goal could be to reduce the number of customer complaints by 25 percent.

Sharing in Success

A team leader with great ethics generously shares the rewards of the company’s success with her team members. These rewards include higher salaries or wages, bonuses for superior importance -- as well as praise and recognition that the company’s accomplishments truly were a team effort. Small business owners who understand that being generous is the right thing to do from an ethical standpoint are rewarded themselves by having highly motivated employees that are fully committed to the company’s future success.