How Ethical a Change Leader Are You?

My most recent cultural change assignment finished successfully on Monday, 19 August 2019. The team I worked with were characterised by lack of confidentiality, conflicting personal and political agendas, lack of respect, and a lack of trust. That was a very toxic culture and a fascinating challenge.

Why did I succeed?

In part, my success came about because I am familiar with working within such environments. However, what worked best was modelling ethical leadership throughout, providing an alternative approach that most had never experienced. It challenged and supported colleagues in ways beyond their "norm," and helped them figure out new ways of doing things.

Why I believe in ethical leadership—and why you should too

In November 2013, I participated in a national survey run by the CMI and MoralDNA to assess the personal ethical values of a range of professional leaders and managers.

The survey enabled me to access my MoralDNA profile. That profile helps you understand how you prefer to make good decisions and do the right thing. The hyperlink – MoralDNA – gives you access to the free survey.

The profile acknowledges the reality of how we make decisions and do the right thing changes as we move through life. So it is not a static position. Have a try at the survey. Your report gives you a benchmark to start your reflection on your ethical values and how they are influencing what you think and do.

My prime analysis and outcome

I am an AngelCRO. About 18% of all adults are Angels.

Angels believe that being good to others is the most essential moral perspective. We think the world would be a better place if we were all a little less selfish and considered the consequences of our actions. We tend to focus on moral principles like love and hope, and ask, “What would build trust and respect?”

We will utilise the rules, laws, and regulations. However, we do what’s right for others because it’s in our nature. We don’t need telling; we just do it. Hence my success with my new team.

My secondary analysis and outcome

The initials CRO further identified that my priorities and preferences—judged by the scoring differences between the three Ethics of Care, Obedience, and Reason—are for Care, Reason, and Obedience in that order of preference.

What was my overall outcome?

What does all that mean? Well, I’m a lovely person and great to have as a friend. However, I will break the rules if I believe a higher principle is at stake.

I typically obey or comply with reasonable rules, laws, policies, and procedures. I tend to judge for myself what I think is right. I try to make good decisions based on my intellect, as well as empathy and compliance with the law. In doing that, I draw on underpinning moral values of wisdom, self-control, and excellence. That means I think through my decisions, sometimes carefully. I am patient and self-disciplined, and I try to do my best in everything I do.

I also decide what’s right for my humanity, which reflects the underpinning moral values of love, fairness, and humility. I am empathetic and care about people. I treat others fairly and with respect, and I am less important than the team. My score on that latter point was low, however, and that gave me pause for further reflection. I tend to lead from the front rather than to push from the back.

How did that help me?

Overall, the analysis gave me great food for thought, both then and since. It offered an accurate picture of my value base, with one or two surprises thrown in for good measure. As a reflective person, I gained insights which have helped me to become a better leader and a better me and that journey continues.

Given my recent experience, I believe that team would agree that taking an ethical leadership approach works. It did for them. Why not for you?

It is because of this that I recommend it to you wholeheartedly. Try the survey at, and be prepared for some fascinating insights into your MoralDNA!

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