Character of an Ethical Boss

The EMS Manager


David S. Becker | | Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Does your organization have a standard for ethical behavior of supervisors and employees? When a new supervisor or chief officer is promoted or hired to fill a leadership role in your organization, are they sworn into office or given an ethical statement to sign? In this age of anything is OK, as long as you don t get caught, a lack of ethics is becoming an increasingly common occurrence of how supervisors and employees perform on the job.

My first title for this article was Only the Ethical Boss Will Survive. I had planned to write about working with an unethical boss. Before I got very far, I realized that the message I wanted to get across was more about the positive aspects of an ethical boss rather than describing the intolerable, unethical boss. Also, I didn t want to give any pointers to those unethical bosses on how to continue their wrongful treatment of employees or customers.

Employees often model their behavior and actions according to their manager s or supervisor s conduct. If supervisors set a poor example of employee performance, then they can only look to themselves if they have personnel problems or a number of bad employees. If the boss demonstrates a lack of ethical characteristics, are employees really at fault when they follow those same actions?

When an employee is promoted to or hired for a supervisor position, they begin the process of becoming a boss learning what it takes to build and maintain strong, ethical team. How you approach that process and the actions you take will determine your success. Be prepared to make mistakes: No one ever gets it right every time. But to a great extent, the kind of moral fiber you possess will have an impact on the way you lead the organization.

Does ethical behavior form the fundamental basis of who you are? This supervisor checklist will help indicate if you have the character of an ethical boss or if you ve taken a different path.

Integrity & moral fiber

This quality is at the top of the list of requirements for an ethical boss. Do your actions reflect your words? Are your values evident in how you treat your employees? Do you work to improve their performance by carefully explaining your vision, or do you discard any employee who attempts to disagree with you. Do you encourage your employees to challenge the status quo, or do you prevent them from bringing forth new ideas? Integrity builds trust in the organization and in the person who demonstrates it.

Many times the boss gets the credit for the organization s accomplishments. Do you, in turn, support your personnel and commend them for their work, or do you hog the spotlight? On the other hand, when things go wrong, do your employees know you will accept accountability and will work with them to find a resolution, or do they expect you to place blame on their shortcomings?


An ethical boss is loyal to their organization and employees rather than only looking out for their own best interests. When you start a new project, is your focus on the agency s progress or on your own advancement in the ranks? Loyalty includes backing your employees when they make mistakes, recognizing the long-term commitment to your organization to continually improve it.


When you communicate, is your message the same to everyone in the organization? Do you show the same amount of respect to all your employees that you would to an outside customer or to a public official who controls your position? It s important for your employees to appreciate your actions and the way you address them as indications that they re essential parts of the organization.


Ethical bosses always follow their principles. They demonstrate that their strong convictions are used to resolve problems, make the right decisions and guide their personal interactions. They follow their vision and stay true to the path of making the organization better.

Commitment to the truth

Do you have the ability to stand up for what is right even at the expense of your position in the organization? Being a supervisor or boss sometimes gives you the advantage to make decisions and take actions that stretch if not break the rules established by the organization. Sometimes these actions occur without anyone taking notice or ever finding out, but are they truly based on doing the right thing? Do you act as though everything you do above is reproach?

An ethical boss is passionate about their commitment to the truth. Their words and actions show the power of honesty, and they accept the consequences of mistakes. They don t seek to change information to meet their needs such as creating false circumstances or examples to achieve their goals or agendas.

Ethics play a critical role in an organization s success. Everyone working in an EMS organization has a personal responsibility to follow the established principles and deliver the best customer service available. Public service demands that your actions and words whether you re a supervisor or not are based on ethical principles of conduct toward the community you serve and the employees you lead.

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Related Topics: Leadership and Professionalism

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