Lynda Hilliard (email@example.com) is Principal of Hilliard Compliance Consulting in Mount Shasta, CA.
Building an ethics-based compliance culture is our goal. We talk about it, we read about it, and we attend conferences describing what ethical behavior is and how it affects the effectiveness of our compliance programs, but do we ever analyze what our personal role is in building an ethical culture? We can look to the literature on the essential elements of an ethical culture and internalize the things our professional colleagues need to do to get the job done, but do we ever self-analyze and figure out how to build and sustain our role in this ever-evolving process?
From a compliance program perspective, an ethical culture is best described as “just doing the right thing.” And doing the right thing starts at the top. Boards and senior leadership should be role models for strong leadership that includes a positive, nurturing, and mission-driven environment based upon self-awareness of their personal behaviors and attributes that are modeled daily to staff in myriad ways.
There are several ways to begin the process of self-analysis to better understand why we do things and how we may act in certain situations. One of the biggest obstacles to ethical decision-making is allowing rationalizations to creep into our analysis process. We can always rationalize what we want and why we are doing it. The harder part is understanding that we are rationalizing and curtailing that behavior before it is modelled to our managers and staff.
According to Caterina Bulgarella in her blog for Forbes magazine (September 5, 2018) leaders can ask the following questions of themselves to determine their own management authenticity:
Who am I?
What are my personal values?
What are my behaviors?
What practices can help me bridge the disconnect between my values and my behaviors?
Being self-aware is a virtue that is learned and practiced; it cannot just survive on reading and understanding the concept. This skill will become more visible to our subordinates as we continue to allow them to become more involved in elements of decision-making that involve job-related issues. We need to empower them to make the right decisions; and as leaders, we need to provide the oversight and guidance to positively direct actions, make corrections as needed, and learn from our mistakes.