Setting the Tone: a New Zealand perspective on ethical business leadership

Publication type: Report
28 November 2017

Tags: Ethical Values, Supportive Environment

Speed read

The report is presented in four chapters:

  • Chapter 1 provides a description of the context in which business leaders in New Zealand operate. It describes how the context has evolved over time and why a formalised approach to business ethics is important.
  • Chapter 2 discusses the characteristics of an ethical leader and the importance of setting the right tone from the top to support an ethical culture. It includes examples of real ethical dilemmas that interviewees faced and how they approached them. It illustrates how ethical leaders need to go beyond compliance with the law to embed their organisation’s core ethical values.
  • Chapter 3 focuses on the importance of building trust and retaining the licence to operate from society. It addresses some of the main ethical issues and risks that business leaders need to tackle to do so effectively.
  • Chapter 4 highlights the importance for ethical leaders to give guidance to their employees, supporting their commitment by establishing an ethics programme, and engaging with employees to empower ethical decision-making.

What does ethical leadership mean in New Zealand? Why is it important to set the right tone from the top? What leadership traits promote trust? And how can these qualities be applied to business and effectively engage stakeholders?

This report explores the importance of ethical leadership in setting the tone of a business from a New Zealand perspective. It provides an overview of thought leadership and highlights some of its practical applications in the country by drawing on a series of interviews with prominent business leaders. Interviewees were selected on the basis of their mana, their achievements and their overall standing across a cross section of sectors. Several interviewees have been recognised as pioneers in their sector, having received awards for their leadership skills or been linked to business success that has left a lasting legacy.

Setting the Tone is essential reading for anyone leading an organisation, from boards, directors, to managers and team leaders.