Mary Bennett of the Ethical Leadership Group wrote three lessons we can learn from the ancient Roman army:
First, there is the timeless importance of culture. People in a society or organization will behave according to the most widely accepted common denominator, modeled by those at the top. We must train and communicate with our leaders so they get this. So that they can communicate and stress the importance of this culture on the organization
Second, we must realize that human behavior is motivated by both the carrot and stick. Roman soldiers got paid if they followed the rules; they got executed if they did not. A simple and effective approach. We may not be able to adopt this exact approach in our ethics and compliance efforts. But must be sure to reward good behavior as well as discipline bad behavior. Do both consistently.
Third, good controls are a must. The Roman army minimized its risks through clear rules, repeated training, and swift reinforcement with the carrot and stick. What worked in Rome can work in your organization through your ethics and compliance efforts.