What Does Ethics & Compliance Have To Do With Morality, Amorality, and Immorality?

There is a theory of business ethics that suggests there are three main leadership behaviors: Moral, Amoral and Immoral. Business leaders have their own approach to following the law, industry regulations, and their own ethics and morals. Have you ever dealt with those kinds of leadership?

The Immoral Leader

The Immoral Leader has an active opposition to the ethical standards of business. Nothing is more important than profit margins to the Immoral Leaders. They are willing to sacrifice the personal lives, mental well-being of their employees, and the general public, to increase their company’s profitability.

The Immoral Leader prides themselves on making the decisions that no one else will because they break legal and ethical regulations and standards. 

How does this leader see Compliance? The Immoral Leaders detest compliance, regulations, policies, procedures, and any rule. They believe that companies that “play nice” finish last, and they would rather risk being fined and waste money on legal fees, or shut down than leave potential profits on the table. Most of them never think they’ll get caught.

A company that has a Compliance Program in place is able to naturally expunge and/or is more prepared to inhibit wrongdoings from this kind of leadership. How? As an example, by having a Code of Conduct and Ethics, an open communication system including anonymous ethics lines, non-stop training programs, monitoring procedures, and a strong tone at the top.

The Amoral Leader

The Amoral Leader stays within legal and regulatory bounds, but does not take ethical considerations into account. But wait! There is more about Amoral Leaders. We can subdivide the Amoral Leader into categories:

The Intentionally Amoral Leader

The Intentionally Amoral Leader does this because they are casual about the importance of ethics in business. In their personal life, they may strive for ethical behavior, but they believe that companies who go out of their way to operate ethically set unrealistic high standards.

The Intentionally Amoral Leader is happy to talk about their personal morals and politics, but does not follow those same ethics on the job. The Intentionally Amoral Leader often asks “Can we do this even if it’s a little murky?” or “Can we do this through a legal loophole?” They are willing to cut corners and do what is necessary to increase their company’s profitability – as long as it is not a significant legal risk.

The Unintentionally Amoral Leader

The Unintentionally Amoral Leader does this because they do not pay attention to ethics. In their personal life and at work, they don’t think often about whether or not they are doing “the right thing” or “the wrong thing.”

When confronted by their employees about doing “the wrong thing,” the Unintentionally Amoral Leader is always quick to point out that they didn’t do anything illegal. Inside, they may be surprised that others take issue with their actions. In their mind, they are not breaking any rules, and they are doing what is most profitable for the company, so they have made the right decision.

Both the Intentionally and the Unintentionally Amoral Leaders through a Compliance Program are constantly reminded that they need to be personally honest and must be alert to ethically risky situations. How? For instance, by providing periodic education and training sessions to the management team, just-in-time communication, and appropriately disclosing that managers are being disciplined for misbehavior.

The Moral Leader

The Moral Leader works hard to follow their own ethical standards, both on the job and in their personal life. The Moral Leader does see their role as a leader rather than a supervisor, so they set the example they want others to follow. The Moral Leader values the well-being of their employees, and understands that a healthy work/life balance is the key to increased productivity and innovative success.

The Moral Leaders are highly ambitious. They pride themselves on being as successful as they are while keeping their company ethical, which their competition sacrifices. The Moral Leader sees the regulations set by the government and standard practices set by the industry as a starting point to push forward from. This type of leadership is excited about new opportunities to help their employees and make their business more ethical at every turn.

However, based on studies that show that we are not as ethical as we think, Ethics & Compliance should be a bit skeptical about one’s entire morality. It is not as simple as knowing right from wrong. Generally speaking people are subject to powerful influences that can shadow their ethical compasses. In order to keep the Moral Leaders’ motivation in standing by their principles, a company needs to have in place all the compliance measures, makes them evident to everyone, and acts according to its speech.

How To Get Where Your Team Needs To Be

Does one of these styles ring true to you? While most of us strive to be the Moral Leader, it is easy to fall short. It is common to fall into the trap of believing that moral management and business profitability are opposites and cannot coexist. Yet many examples prove that when a company operates ethically, their profits increase as a result of renewed interest in work from their employees, business partners, clients and shareholders.If you are ready to increase your company’s focus on ethics and make everyone in your business be the Moral Leader, contact Prae Venire today! No matter your business’s size, industry, or history, your business deserves to hold itself to the highest ethical standard. We create solutions tailored to each client’s specific needs!