In recent years, ethics have become a focus in the business world. The Bernie Madoff case is a prime example of an unethical leader and what can happen when a leader does not have any moral integrity. Ethics programs have come a long way, but there is still much more work that needs to be done. This paper focuses on the effects that unethical behavior can have on an organization, while highlighting some of the traits of ethical leaders. This research shows that ethical leadership starts at the top and ethical corporations need to hold everyone within the organization to the same ethical standards. The determination of a corporation's ethical values should be based on the way that they conduct themselves in all business dealings, not only with customers, but also in the way that they treat everyone within the corporation. This author concluded that the implementation of a solid ethical program is a sound business decision, regardless of the field in which the company competes. .
Ethical and moral behavior is essentially, knowing and doing what is right. The influence of ethics in today's business environment is becoming standard versus years ago when ethical corporations were the anomaly. Bernie Madoff was one of the most influential and respected figures on Wall Street for years, but in 2008 Madoff confessed to cheating his clients. Madoff was running a Ponzi scheme, in which he used invested money from new clients to pay off made up returns to older clients and he would write off losses in his legitimate business, while keeping all of the investor's money for himself. It was reported that Madoff cheated his victims out of $65 billion, making it the largest swindle in history (Johnson, pg. 71). Madoff was able to use his charisma and the trust he had earned over the years, to convince many people, including some of his closest friends, to invest in his funds, even almost up until the time of his arrest.