Ethics Come from the Inside-Out in Exceptional Leaders

Press Release: October 2, 2019

CLAREMONT, CA—The tide of ethical scandals ebbs and flows into the public spotlight. But according to members of the Society for the Advancement of Consulting, exceptionally ethical leaders set their moral compass early on and continually prioritize high ethical standards.

Ethics Are Integral To Business Success

“Ethics are the basis of our most successful clients,” points out Lisa Anderson, president of Claremont, CA-based LMA Consulting Group, Inc. and manufacturing expert known for creating supply chain resiliency. “When I’ve surveyed executives about what they think is most integral to their success, ethics and integrity always rise to the top, yet they appear to be in short supply.

“As a former VP of Operations and Supply Chain, it was of paramount importance to do what I said I would do. Every employee, customer, and supplier watched closely. It was the precursor to everything else and led to significant results. As a consultant, trust is cornerstone. As simple as it sounds, doing what you say you’ll do, it is a great place to start. You will find that characteristic alone will allow you to stand out from the crowd, “ she adds.

Ethics Comes Down To The Self-Respect Learned Early In Life

“Business ethics are no different from personal ethics, and do not ebb or flow with the times. The chance of getting caught may change, but that’s not relevant to the decision to live ethically or not,” according to Becky Morgan, President of Fulcrum ConsultingWorks in Cleveland, OH, who is passionate about helping mid-sized manufacturers define and implement operations strategy that delivers brand promise every single day.

“There are few immutable laws of business, but one is to behave ethically. Those who don’t, don’t last,” Becky adds. “Wells Fargo employees that treated customers unethically to game the internal compensation and evaluation system made conscious decisions to cheat. Audi engineers and executives decided to cheat. Lance Armstrong decided to cheat. Everybody says they’re sorry later, but anyone truly ethical won’t deal with those regrets.”

“Early in life most of us decide if our ethical self-respect is more important than money or winning,” she explains. “We often do that by cheating and then assessing how we feel later. Stealing candy or cheating on a school test is enough for most of us. Spike Lee may seem an unusual source of business philosophy, but ‘Do the Right Thing,’ says it all.”

Do Good In The World: A Goal Of Exceptional Leaders

“This is about people, not a business,” says Alan Willett, author of Leading the Unleadable and the forthcoming book Lead with Speed. Alan is the president of Oxseeker Inc. “Exceptional leaders have a goal to do good in the world. The pursuit of these goals results in loyalty and the richness of a job well done. It also results in well-earned profit.”

Leadership: Facing Ethical Dilemmas

“Leaders are the most important and powerful influence on the culture of an organization, and are responsible for creating credibility and trust,” says Dr. Maynard Brusman, a San Francisco Bay Area consulting psychologist, executive coach, trusted leadership advisor, and emotional intelligence and mindful leadership consultant. “Creating and promoting institutional integrity is one of the most important functions of leadership.”

According to Dr. Brusman, “Leadership development must include programs on ethical reasoning and decision-making. This must be an ongoing process, not a one-shot affair at fulfilling a requirement. The most effective leadership development programs include coaching or mentoring or both. Through executive coaching, issues of personal ethics and moral responsibility need to be explored and aligned with organizational values.”

Dr. Brusman advises his executive coaching clients, “Leadership development programs must include coaching on ethical and moral values, and cultivate a drive for ethical responsibility if organizations are to thrive.”

Ethics come from your inner principles

“It’s the wood that makes the varnish look good. If the wood is rotten or damaged, no amount of varnish makes a piece of furniture look exquisite,” explains Steven Hunt, an Executive Consultant at Alesco Development in Germany.

“Ethics are the foundation – the wood. The varnish is how we behave and what we choose to be, every day; it brings out the best (or worst) in what lies underneath the surface,” explains Steven.

“Two actions can help ethical executives maintain that healthy foundation,” he adds. “Firstly, to be aware of when impaired judgment, skewed self-interest or the misuse of power lead to unethical behavior. Secondly, the ethical executive faces a stark choice: to collaborate in unethical behavior, or to refuse and call people out on their negative behavior. The latter option takes courage and craft because there is no substitute for experience in behaving ethically.”

Ethical Behavior Becomes a Key Brand Differentiator

In today’s world, where we regularly hear of everything from misrepresentation to downright fraud, maintaining high ethics can be a key differentiator, according to Linda Popky, president of Redwood Shores, CA-based strategic marketing firm Leverage2Market Associates, and author of the book Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing That Matters.

“Ethical behavior builds the trust that generates strong customer loyalty,” she notes. “Customers want to know the brands they choose act with ethics and integrity, rather than cutting corners or acting inappropriately. After all, if an individual organization treats anyone or anything unethically, there’s a high likelihood they can replicate that behavior to the rest of us in the future.”

Good Ethics Are The Basis Of Successful Capitalism, And Business

“It’s as if attention to ethics is something new,” says SAC Founder Alan Weiss. “Excellent operations have always acted ethically, it’s the basis of capitalism (I agree to provide goods and services of a certain quality and quantity, you agree to pay a certain amount at a certain time). We’re simply paying more attention to the exceptions, from VW to Felicity Huffman, from Wells Fargo to Bernie Madoff, as we should.”

About SAC

The Society for the Advancement of Consulting (SAC) is the premier association for independent consulting professionals who subscribe to an industry code of ethics and provide significant consulting results among their clients. Founded by Million Dollar Consulting guru Alan Weiss in 2003, SAC offers a series of in-person and online programs to help consultants share best practices and learn from industry experts and thought leaders in the business world. SAC today has members in 10 countries around the world.

For more information, go to, email, or call (909) 563-1803.