I could go on and on and possibly even write an entire book on this topic, and I could not express the the high level of importance when it comes to the subject of ethics. First off I will begin with the Merriam-Webster definition: an area of study that deals with ideas about what is good and bad behavior : a branch of philosophy dealing with what is morally right or wrong.
It is not just an area of study, it is an area of culture. It is the foundation that you create when building a rapport with your clients, customers, and partners. The importance of proper ethical behavior and practices spans from personal relationships, to business, and up to but not limited to, government practices. There is a reason why this subject is taught from basic high school courses, to prestigious universities, and onto the trainings in monumental corporations. How you follow fair and ethical behavior and practices will determine your relationships in your network. Being ethical will protect you from law-suits and attacks from aggressive parties and competitions, it can fortify and increase your connections, and it will aid with your repertoire among the circles in which you will or have become involved in.
A classic known example: a company had connected with a new entity. With that relationship on the verge of being built, the company was tested with how business was practiced with one unexpectedly high value property that needed moved while maintaining high levels of discretion. By following proper etiquette, staying on top of things, keeping transparency with open communication, and keeping a dedication to highly ethical standards, they won the agent's repeat business even before their first deal would close with multi million dollar transactions.
Let's take a look at how this could have worked out: Considering the pool and community grows smaller the higher in price that you go in real estate transactions, the more impact you are liable to have that can have negative consequences. Had this company done things to ignore the discretion, break a none circumvent agreement, or disregard potential harm to the agent, operations would have ceased in mid deal. Not only that, but future business would have halted, and reputation would be spread in an already small faction that would prevent the company to do any further involvement in multiple and more profitable transactions.
On larger scales, breaking rules of ethics can be devastating. The wrong move can cause governments to topple and remove them from allies and unions. It can start wars, and even potentially cause famine because of lack of help to it's people during desperate times. Perseverance and relentless upholding in ethical practices can mean the beginning or end of entire dynasties. On a much smaller level it can mean the end to a relationship you may be in with a significant other, children, friends, and also but not limited to, your very career.
When conducting negotiations, the importance of ethics is some times under valued and often times dismissed when in desperation to making deals happen. It may seem like the logical choice, but you may be surprised at how often it becomes ignored. A successful negotiator will be able to walk away from a negotiation with having every party involved happy with the resolutions and outcome. A forceful, lying, overly-aggressive, agent may win a negotiation, but will never have dealings with not only that individual entity, but any future transactions with others in the business.
Keep in mind your work does not go unnoticed. It is in human nature to remember and pay attention too all the bad before all the good. It is a natural human instinct and mechanism for protection dating back through our predecessors at our evolutionary stage to adhere to pessimistic and detrimental situations. You can do 1,000 great and positive things, but what will stand out the most is anything, even one item, that you take action on that will fall short of ethical behavior.
As long as you uphold and remember the value of ethics, your relationships with your partners, customers, and/or clients will flourish. Entire entities and communities will take notice and uphold a higher respect to your practices and thus allow for the fortuity at a prosperous aspiration.