July 17, 2014

Ethical Leadership Drives Innovation Culture In Business

Ahmad Qureshi

Head of Technology and Foresight, Tieto

Organizations are constantly evolving in response to market trends. This evolution has tremendously grown in the past few years. As a result, innovation and change are intermingled and inevitable in the business world. If a business is on the verge of restructuring or undergoing some other significant transformation, consideration must be given to your organisation's responsibilities and ethics as you work toward the future.

Disruption & Innovation

Change and innovation are disruptive to everyone involved in your business. This disruption requires that business owners take stock of everyone involved in the change process. This means challenging the status quo, asking questions about how the change is disruptive, and how to make it less disruptive (or use that disruption to your advantage). The disruption caused by change and innovation will have outcomes that need to be planned for, and business owners should do everything possible to preserve the rights and interests of others, rather than just the final goal. Business owners cannot treat stakeholders as a mere means to reach this goal.

Employees & Stakeholders

One of the primary responsibilities of leading a strong change and innovation culture is keeping your employees in mind as you implement changes. As a business owner with the economic well-being of your employees in your hands, you are responsible for the changes you make that affect your employees. You should want your employees to benefit once the change occurs. As you plan for changes, assess the impact they will have on your employees.

Current & Future Customers

Since disruption and change exists for everyone in your business, the current customers of an organisation are also impacted. Often, these customers are dependent on their vendors to be a smarter partner. Therefore, it is utmost important to keep your current customers synchronised with your manoeuvres. This creates an environment of trust and establishes stronger relationships. With this, there should also be emphasis laid on finding and engaging future customers – these are the customers who will buy the solutions that would be produced through innovation and change. A lot of organisations fail to appreciate this issue.

Open Culture & Honest Communication

Ethics plays a large role in the process of change and innovation, especially in regard to the need for creating an open culture that builds open and honest communication among employers and employees, and between your company and the public. Communication needs to be transparent during the process of change so that continued trust in the organization will continue to exist once the changes have been completed. Companies that are not upfront about their changes taking place may lose the trust of their employees. Trust could also be potentially damaged in the community as well, depending upon the nature of the business.

Community & Pride

Ethical behaviour towards a company's community and employees will help its business owner build a stronger organization. The sense of pride that employees take away from participating in the process of change will provide them with a greater sense of belonging and purpose. The responsibility of an ethical leader is to create innovation culture into a process that affects and benefits everyone. Providing a stake in the outcome to everyone who's involved in change, and treating them in an ethical manner in the process, will bring greater results in the long run.

Currently, I am Head of Technology & Foresight at Tieto. You can find me on LinkedIn. You can download our Future of Business Transformation study here.

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