7 Tips To Develop Effective Ethical Leadership Online Training

7 Tips To Develop Effective Ethical Leadership Online Training
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com
Summary: Leaders that are seen to demonstrate ethical behavior command better performance and higher engagement. Are your team leaders setting a shining example for their subordinates to follow?

How To Develop Ethical Leadership Online Training That Has An Impact

They often say that ethical leaders are born, not bred. Your culture and upbringing will determine whether or not you act ethically. As such, your leadership selection process will, undoubtedly, weed out those who demonstrate unethical behavior. In fact, they probably never made it past the interview stage to join the company. That being said, it is always possible for people to sway and make poor decisions under pressure. For this reason, training leaders on the ethical standards your organization demands is a business-critical task. Choosing to do this training online delivers the benefits of testing decision-making skills in a safe space. So, is your ethical leadership online training up to scratch?

What Do We Expect From Ethical Leaders?

Our leaders set the tone for the entire organization. What they think, say and do has a trickle-down effect on every employee. Therefore, ethical leadership online training should help them set the same high standards for themselves as they do for their team members. A leader with strong ethical decision-making prowess will display all the following behaviors:

  • Clearly express the organization’s mission and values
  • Follow their own personal values and live by them even if this puts them at a competitive disadvantage. In short, they live by their own “inner voice”
  • Role model desired behaviors and behave with integrity. For example, they call out those acting in conflict with those behaviors and reward those that consistently display the desired values
  • Be aware of situations where unethical behaviors could be triggered. Here, they act consciously to ensure their own personal values are not compromised
  • Have an established process to respond ethically in dilemma situations. This includes preparing in advance, evaluating their decisions and asking for advice
  • They are courageous in the face of potential consequences

Developing Ethical Leadership Online Training With Impact

Ethical leadership online training needs to tread a fine line between educating leaders on policy and appreciating their existing experience. So, make the context for this online training program clear from the outset. Impactful ethical leadership online training will encompass all the following elements:

1. Clear Learning Objectives And Expectations

Set achievable learning goals from the outset.  Start by explaining the content for the online training and why it is important for leaders to give their full participation. Provide learning expectations, so corporate learners know what form the online training will take. They must also be aware of what constitutes unethical behavior. As well as how they can avoid ‘crossing the line’ in the workplace. For example, new team leaders may be oblivious to the fact that their innocent gift-giving in the past was a compliance breach.

2. Make The Learning Real And Relatable

Use online training as a real opportunity to test the ethical skills of your leaders. Incorporate simulations, branching scenarios and case studies to help convert knowledge to skills. Those who are new to leadership positions will particularly benefit from testing their skills in a safe place.

3. Helpful “Push” Microlearning Assets

Leaders are famously time-poor and have a host of conflicting demands. However, you can make their knowledge retention easier by pushing microlearning assets such as videos or infographics to their mobile devices. This way, leaders can quickly access these to refresh their memories between meetings or on the train.

4. Spark An Emotional Connection

Make leaders think about how their people feel in scenarios where they might be challenged ethically. You could use the “shock factor” to help embed the impact unethical leadership decisions can have. Show the effect on the individual leader, their people that rely on them, and the company profile. Just make sure that you don’t take things too far. You want to drive your message home, not stir up unnecessary controversy.

5. Lean On Visuals

Much of ethical leadership online training is about demonstrating the negative impact of unethical behavior. This is often through statistics in terms of financial penalties or hours lost. Numbers are notoriously difficult to retain: so, use infographics and videos to make the statistics stick. You can also incorporate compelling images and visual metaphors to illustrate the point and improve understanding.

6. Open Up A Two-Way Communication Channel

Give leaders somewhere to go with any issues. Provide a confidential after-training support mechanism for asking questions when they arise. You can also launch a private social media group where they can turn for peer-based support. Team leaders should know that their input matters and that your organization values their active participation.

7. Schedule Live Team Leader Events

Host regular events that help team leaders catch up on the latest compliance policies and share their experiences on the job. You can also use this opportunity to gather their feedback regarding the ethical leadership online training and how it can be improved. Record the online training event for those who are too busy to attend. Then invite them to leave comments to spark peer-based discussions.


No matter what the situation, we demand that our leaders respond predictably, in line with company and personal values. There are no exceptions – and it is important that everyone understands these expectations clearly. Ethical leadership online training provides the opportunity for leaders to safely test out their skills and to connect emotionally with the content. However, leaders are time-poor and we cannot expect them to search out online training experiences in the same way as other corporate learners. Hence, we need to hold them to account with regular “push” updates in microlearning form.

We have to provide a mechanism for discussing ethical topics at any time. And we must make the most impact possible with the ethical leadership online training whilst we have their time and attention. Pitch the training carefully, build interactive online training content, and let them try out their skills. All of this will help the leader to understand and internalize the true impact of unethical behavior.

Which leadership development training company is a good fit for your organization? Search our free online directory to find the best eLearning content provider for your industry and use case.