Leadership: Ethical leadership

Tourism HR
  • Plan
  • Strategy

Ethical leadership to prepare for a crisis 

Leading ethically can be a particular challenge in times of crisis when fear is high. However, crises are also opportunities to support your community and double down on your ethical values. In order to achieve this, some self-reflection is a must.

  1. Define your brand’s values: Your team, and your tourism community, look to you to set an example in ethical leadership. You first need to know your organization’s values have clear rules about employee behaviour. These rules usually flow from the organization’s mission and vision statements. To navigate this, ask yourself the following key questions:
    • What standards of behaviour are really important to my company?
    • What specific values do I admire in certain leaders? Do I identify with those values?
    • Would I still live by those values, even if they put me at a competitive disadvantage?
  2. Set the tone: Model this behaviour to set an example for others to follow. This “ripple effect” can be far-reaching. For example, if everyone is required to wear a mask or face covering on your small group tours make sure you set the example and wear one too. Ensure that consequences are clear if behaviour that doesn’t live up to your corporate values, or which breaks ethical rules. Positive consequences are important, too. Consider rewarding team members who consistently act according to the company values. 
  3. Recognize ethical dilemmas: Businesses are often faced with tough choices in the workplace, but most ethical dilemmas aren’t obvious. How do you recognize them? Identify “trigger” situations. Certain situations, such as purchasing, hiring, firing, promoting, and calculating bonuses, seem to attract ethical dilemmas. By recognizing when ethical dilemmas are most likely to occur, you can be more attuned to them and more sensitive.
  4. Respond to ethical dilemmas: 
    1. Prepare in advance: Working through scenarios can help you to work through your feelings and to decide what to do in reality. In a crisis, you may only have seconds to reach a decision, so rehearsing can be a great help.
    2. Investigate before making a decision: Wherever possible, take the time to investigate and assess whether someone has behaved unethically before taking action.
    3. Re-evaluate your decision before you act: If you are in a difficult situation and unsure what to do, ask yourself how you would feel if your actions were made public. Would you stand by that course of action? If not, reconsider your decision. In times of crisis, a spotlight is often shone and consequences can be intensified. 
    4. Seek advice: Get input from others to assess a situation more rationally, and come up with a better decision. Collaboration across your value chain is critical in a time of crisis. Seek advice and be open.
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