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Leaders, And The Issue Of Ethics

With all the recent events unfolding in financial services, perhaps the most concerning isn't the competency of leadership, but rather its ethics. The economic inequality in America is being blamed on the greed of corporate leadership!

What makes leadership has always sparked interesting discussion. Are leaders born with innate qualities or can effective leadership be taught and learned? This is a very important business issue since recent American employee surveys indicate that half of workers are unhappy because of "not being valued" due to weak organizational leadership.

Are you as good a leader as you think you are? Are you ethical? If so, how would your people rate you on some of the following traits or characteristics of effective CEOs and board members:

• Are you perceived as great or just good?

• Do you have a powerful business and people acumen?

• Do you embrace diversity?

• Do you inspire people to achieve?

• Do you have a clear vision of seeing the possibilities and the preferred future of the organization?

• Can you build partnerships and alliances?

• Do you have a curiosity about the world and are you a facilitator of change?

• Do you lead with actions over words?

• Can you utilize technology to achieve business results?

• Are you a risk-taker who doesn't fear innovation or failure?

• Can you aconvert the learning of ideas into practices?

• Do you hire to your weakness?

• Can you develop goals and execute plans?

• And do you uphold ethical values?

I offer the following action steps to inspire you to strive for greatness not just goodness:

1) Have a passion for your business philosophy in what you do for your, staff, board, members and the community.

2) Pledge to transfer our people-helping-people philosophy or "higher calling" passion to all who are engaged in serving members and the community. Upholding this pledge manifests ethical behavior.

3) Get the right folks in the right seats on your Credit Union Bus and give them a license to pursue their passion in serving members.

4) Understand that our higher calling "people-helping-people service work spirit" should be looked upon as our differentiating competitive (and ethical) advantage in the financial services marketplace.

5) Greatness knows that embracing innovation is not an option.

Great, not just good, effective leadership will be one of the key factors of how the success of organizations will be measured in the future. And how current leaders set an ethical standard to follow and having the will to follow it may be their most important legacy.

I hope your leadership practices are anchored and reflect the core values of credit unions (having a commitment to service, demonstrate a caring for people and provide good value to all members) that will guide your business conduct and inspire greatness in you and your people during this uncertain and challenging 2012.

John A. Vardallas is Founder/CEO of TheAmericanBoomeR Consulting Group and can be reached at jvardallas@aol.com or (608)577-8707.

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