Every one of us has a different set of values that we live by, and we use these values to help guide our decisions or figure things out when something doesn’t quite go according to plan.
Your code of ethics helps you make important moral decisions that could be life-changing.
These values or principles range from honesty and integrity to having respect for others and knowing how to be a positive role model.
Whether in your personal or professional life, establishing a healthy value system will go a long way toward building authentic connections and developing traits that others find admirable.
So, if you’re looking for guidance and inspiration, some of the most successful people with a strong ethical code always live by these 8 rules that I explore in a lot more detail below.
Let’s get started!
1) They respect others.
As soon as you hear the words “code of ethics,” the first thing that might come to mind is respect.
There’s no way that you can live a life of moral integrity if you can’t treat others with dignity.
Why is respecting others so important?
Well, whether in your personal relationships or at the office, respect is about treating others fairly, which makes it easier for people to trust you.
Living by the ethical code of respecting the people you know and the ones you meet helps guide your behaviors and attitudes.
This means that you’re mindful of how you treat others and use the same yardstick to judge every person.
It doesn’t mean that you accept or approve of everyone’s opinions or ideas, regardless of your beliefs and experiences.
It’s just about consideration and fairness.
It’s a great rule to live by, and the reason I’m saying this is because it allows us to understand someone else’s perspective, whether we agree or disagree with them.
It can open channels of communication, and we learn to accept feedback more positively because we know that it comes from a helpful and not a hurtful place.
2) They hold themselves and others accountable.
To live a moral lifestyle, you must start by being accountable for your actions.
What you might not know is that accountability is not only about forgiving yourself and someone else; it’s about peace of mind knowing that you tried, things didn’t work out, and you’re willing to step up to the plate.
But failing to accept responsibility can look a little bit different in romantic relationships.
When you’re with your significant other, and they lie to you, you naturally confront them about what they did or didn’t do. They respond with, “I never said that,” or “You must’ve heard wrong.” You feel like you’re going crazy, and you get frustrated and angry.
This was something that happened to me in a past relationship, and it continued for quite some time until I realized that this person was an emotional manipulator.
And manipulators don’t exactly have an ethical code they live by!
Accountability holds you and others to a standard, and when you insist that someone accept responsibility, you’re letting them know how you want to be treated.
3) They value honesty.
I love the quote, “It takes courage to admit the truth.”
Honesty is about being transparent with someone, whether they’re a relative, spouse, or even a colleague at work.
It’s about sincerity and not being downright mean.
When you live by the ethical principle of honesty, you’re candid without being deceptive. You don’t continuously mislead other people to get your way, and you’re pretty much an open book for the people closest to you.
In business, honesty goes a long way to building trustworthy professional relationships, and it puts you in good standing as a reliable employee.
Can you imagine if you were caught for dishonesty in your job? It would be humiliating, and you’d probably lose some of the respect of your colleagues. Depending on the offense, you could get off with a warning or suspension.
Honesty helps you to be dependable, loyal, and just a really good human!
4) They have a strong sense of loyalty.
Loyalty is about committing to something or someone by trusting them.
A loyal friend is someone you can truly depend on, even when times are tough, and if you’re considered loyal, you’re seen as trustworthy and respectful.
In the office, companies often include loyalty as part of their ethical code because they want employees to invest in the business and brand, which means higher rates of retention and better performance.
But loyalty is not a given.
You’re more likely to be faithful to your company if you know that they offer medical benefits, paid leave, or explore every last option before resorting to retrenchments.
When you’re loyal, you maintain confidentiality when someone shares a personal or professional matter with you, and you respect the people you hold in high esteem.
That includes your faithfulness to your colleagues, partners, and the company as a whole.
5) They believe in compassion.
Compassion is integral to living ethically because it helps you feel for others and deepens your understanding of what it means to be kind.
If you didn’t have an ounce of empathy, you wouldn’t feel the need to be honest, loyal, or respectful of anyone else.
Kindness shows your character.
When you act out of kindness, there’s no expectation attached to it. You do something because you want to and because you feel like it’s the right thing to do. That’s what compassion is all about.
Acting from a place of compassion helps you see other people and situations in a more positive light.
You become less cynical and critical.
We’d rather have an empathic and kind-hearted person in our corner than someone who is dismissive and insulting.
You can live by the virtue of having compassion and tolerance, but always remember to set healthy boundaries.
There are many people who prey on kind-heartedness, so taking the time to think about how you want to be treated can stop you from being taken advantage of.
6) They stand by their integrity.
If you don’t have integrity, what do you have?
Integrity is about consistency and showing others that you have good character but that you’re also a fairly good judge of character.
The reason that the world’s most successful people hold this virtue in such high esteem is because it influences every area of their lives, from their relationships to their goals.
When you have integrity, you have self-respect.
For example, if you were in a relationship where you were taken advantage of and disrespected, you certainly wouldn’t stick around because your ethical code of integrity tells you how you want to be treated.
It helps you set positive goals, from working hard in your career to acting honestly and even becoming a role model for someone else.
7) They strive to be positive leaders.
As an ethical leader in business, you strive to support your employees or team with the tools, resources, and opportunities they can use to achieve their goals.
It makes sense.
I’m probably not going to listen to someone I don’t look up to. In the workplace, most of us are driven by passionate, fair, and strong people who inspire us.
But exercising positivity is not only a virtue that is recognized in business.
You can be a positive role model for your friends and family too.
When you live by the principle of leadership, you try to be helpful to others, and you focus on developing your strengths by taking risks so that you can achieve healthy personal growth.
8) They encourage forgiveness.
At some stage, someone in your life may disappoint you, and believe me, it’s hurtful and confusing.
But here’s what I want you to know:
By forgiving someone who wronged you, you can find peace, and you can take the steps to move forward. You don’t allow them to control you.
Hanging on to the bitterness of the situation will continuously filter into your life without you even realizing it.
I’ve dealt with this type of anger for years, and despite trying to push the memory out of my mind, it would reappear with changes in my mood or not wanting to get out of bed in the morning.
All of this just brings you down while the person who hurt you is probably already on the mend.
When you are at a point where you can forgive, you aren’t saying, “Fine, all is forgotten.” You’re just giving yourself permission to be free.
It’s always a good thing to develop your own sense of moral values to live by.
Of course, we can use ethical codes like the ones mentioned above to inspire our choices, but they should always be aligned with our belief systems.
That way, we’re more likely to rely on them when we need to make big decisions or stand up for ourselves when facing conflict.
Respect, forgiveness, and learning to become leaders are all strong values that we can use to better ourselves both personally and professionally.
Moral principles play an important part in helping shape who we are and who we want to be. The good news is that it’s never too late to start working on your values and to work towards your success.