Leaders Code of Conduct

By Mark Hampton

Updated Over a Week Ago

Minute Read

What exactly is a Code of Conduct, and how do we abide by it and emerge as a trusted leaders?  A Code of Conduct is about authenticity and not a corporate document or mission statement that is stuffed away in the HR packet you get when first hired.

A Code of Conduct is really an accurate communication of the core values and principles that live inside of you – a Code of Conduct is the best you on display.

One of the things leaders must be consistently aware of is that every word that flows from them, whether orally, by letter, email, or text message, is shaping and developing a culture in their organization or area of responsibility.

Yes, that’s correct; every interaction you have with another person shapes culture, models the acceptable Code of Conduct and establishes what people think about you as a leader.

I know you may have never thought about it in this context before. But as a leader, you are consistently being assessed.

Authentic or Just Best Behavior

People are constantly determining whether or not you are authentic or just on your best behavior. The reason I believe leaders are constantly assessed is that people are looking for the right person to follow. They’re looking for someone they can learn from because they truly want to be their best.

Observers are fast-paced, high-octane learners who are learning not only what you do but how you do it. We must remember that our personal code of conduct, aligned with our values system, shapes the minds of on-lookers.

To establish a Code of Conduct and develop a great culture in your organization, it’s not enough for people to follow you because of your position or title. That kind of fellowship is, more often than not, problematic in nature.

Followers may be uncertain about a leader if that leader has failed to model the Code of Conduct that they expect from others. The code of Conduct must be laced with the practiced virtues of integrity, trustworthiness, honesty, compassion, and self-control.

Personal Code of Conduct

The leaders’ personal Code of Conduct affords leaders the capacity to lead well by focusing on principles that are larger than their own existence. It keeps them continually mindful of the pursuit of excellence. This propels leaders to think about their conduct and produce conscious achievement.

Conscious achievement does not happen by accident; it results from consistency and specificity. It is with this mindset that the Code of Conduct is given life by leaders who exemplify the gold standard of leadership.

While we’re talking about consistency and specificity, I think it’s worth it to elaborate on them. Consistency in leadership is everything. What gives you consistency is your decision-making capability.

The best decisions are those decisions that are made before you need to make them; I call them “Preemptive Decisions.” These decisions are best made based on your core values and your code of conduct. That way, circumstances will not change your behavior, and you remain consistent because now all you have to do is execute, not make a decision and then execute.

Be Specific

Next, let’s discuss “Specificity.” One of the ways you build your consistent, personal brand and model your code of conduct is through the specificity of your communication. I think it’s safe to say that people need short, concise answers with specific directions and a time frame attached to them. This allows you to quickly build the code of conduct.

I see a yellow caution light in this discussion. Specific does not mean shortcutting answers or behavior because this could create additional challenges. So when you’re communicating, do it with impassioned sincerity.

Certainly, if the building is on fire, be as cutting as you like to get people out of the building – you get the point! So consistency and specificity are two key components in building your code of conduct.

The Code of Conduct Must Be SPECIAL

  • Specific – Be specific in every communication. No guesswork here. People don’t do well when trying to figure out the appropriate behavior. It really accelerates performance, to be specific.
  • Public – Publicly model and promote the code of conduct – don’t hide it. Your code of conduct is the best you on display. Who would want to hide their best? If you hide the good stuff, then the bad stuff is on display instead. So. if you’re going to build a castle, don’t build it in the woods. Build it on the top of the mountain for everyone to see!
  • Executed – Execute every chance you get. It gives you opportunities to practice.
  • Clear – be clear about your convictions and model them. People need leaders that are clear – not ones they have to try and figure out.
  • Inspiring- use the code to inspire you and others to higher performance levels.
  • Acceptable – make sure your code is acceptable to others.
  • Lived – live your code of conduct every moment.

When the Code of Conduct is SPECIAL, it speaks to the best in people and influences great outcomes. It causes the BEST to emerge, and don’t we want people to be their best?

When leaders live by a special Code of Conduct, it inspires others. Your authentic Code of Conduct becomes the all-inspiring fuel of performance that takes your leadership and your organization’s performance to another level.

Do You Have a Code Of Conduct?

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Mark Hampton
Mark Hampton
Mark founded FTL Leadership Group in 2005 when he wrote his second book “Follow the Leader” a leadership book that improves personal leadership ability with a focus on high quality people interactions.
  • Stephen B. Carman says:


    Your comments about authenticity are crucial. The tired (but true) “how do you act when no one is looking” comes to mind.

    Another test of authenticity is how do you act when stressed, tired, or dealing with an organizational curve-ball? Few leaders can hide from who we really are under these circumstances. Our true self emerges.

    If this is true, then it follows that a “code of conduct” is more that a physical manifestation (on paper or a plaque), but rather part of the character of the individual and collective organization. One could also argue that a document is unnecessary if ethical character is present. It’s too easy to hide behind the documents we create and slogans we profess.

  • Ron Whitaker says:


    Your article reminds me of a quote I heard by Dr. Wayne Dyer: “When you squeeze an orange, you get orange juice.” How a person acts under stress and pressure says a lot about their character.

    I hope you write more on this subject.


  • Lead by Priciples

    Practice to demonstrate

    Lead to Lead the Values

    Vitues to be learnt

    Discipline the way of life

    Assist to follow

    Help To learn

    Learn from Others the Best

    would add the value to leaders.

    Leaders then create more leaders.

    Tks for the opportunity provided to add my thoughts


  • Al Gonzalez says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful resource Mark. I really like the SPECIAL recipe and your focus on the critical issue of leaders always being assessed.

    I totally agree with the pov that staff members will gauge whether a leader is in their best behavior or truly authentic.

    Great work!

  • loutfi daniel says:

    i really appreciate,and I totally agree with staff members, a leader is in his best behavior or truly

  • Mark Graybill says:

    You hit the nail on the head – especially “the best you on display”!

  • James H. K. Gayemen says:

    Thanks for the idea pushed here. It is important to have a written document to guide personnel, but it’s even more prudent to place every part of said document on the mind of the leader. It will indeed have the leader pursue excellence and cause others to follow suit.

  • Alvaro (Al) Rosales says:

    Thank you so much! I love it, and it is great thinking.

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