We have looked at several traits of ethical leaders. The final trait has as much to do with what ethical leaders don’t do as much as it relates to what they do.
Pass on some opportunities.
There is a lot excitement in a company when a new opportunity presents itself. Despite this excitement, ethical leaders look at opportunities not only in term of what is gained, but also in terms of the ethical implications of pursuing the opportunity. The CEO of a construction supply company won the right to sell heavy equipment in Mexico. However, he asked his team how they could succeed in Mexico without paying bribes. There was no answer so he passed on the opportunity. The company which seized the opportunity was plagued by corruption charges not only in Mexico but also at home. For ethical CEOS, if you cannot pursue an opportunity ethically, you cannot pursue it at all.