Lance Armstrong, Canadian Senator Mike Duffy and the City of Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford – you can replace those names with any number of people but, the question remains the same. What where they thinking? Why do good people do dumb ass things? Do they do it because they can? Is it because they think no one is watching or do they do it out of a sense of entitlement? They’ve worked incredibly hard, sacrificed much and worked long hours to further their career – and then in one dumb ass move they’ve thrown it all away. Any credibility they had is gone – wiped out in a heart beat. Some will get back into the public’s good graces but most won’t.
It is better to be defeated on principle then to win on lies. – Arthur Caldwell
The first course I ever taught at Algonquin College’s School of Business was a “Business Ethics” course written by one of my personal hero’s, the late Professor Ron Knowles. He wrote it for first year business students in the College’s Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) program. One of the neat things about the course was that I got to work with first year business students to help them write their own personal code of conduct, their own ethical decision-making model that they could use when faced with an ethical dilemma. (A situation where there is no clear right or wrong answer) When you are confronted with an ethical dilemma what series of questions do you ask yourself to help you make a decision that you can live with?
Before the issue of integrity can even be raised we need principles of behavior – moral convictions about what is and is not appropriate. – Dr. Nathaniel Branden
Ethics is best described as a set of moral principles or values that defines what is considered right and wrong behavior for a person or group. Some people suggest that there is a difference between business and personal ethics. But, to my way of thinking there is just one. You are either ethical or you’re not. How can you behave one way at work and then behave a different way at home and still be true to yourself and what you believe in? The truth of the matter is – if you have to ask whether it is ethical or not – you already know the answer.
A moral compass – your personal code of conduct.
What do you hold to be true? What are your enduring principles? What are you not willing to compromise – no matter the situation or the outcome? What isn’t for sale – no matter the price? If you had to sit down and write your personal code of conduct, what kinds of things would you include on that list? Ethics is a process. It is a continuous effort of studying our own beliefs and conduct and striving to ensure that we, and the institutions we help to shape, live up to standards that are solidly based. What series of questions will you ask yourself to solve your ethical dilemmas? Do you believe – I mean really believe in honesty, integrity and treating others fairly? Is it OK to win at all costs? Does the end result justify the means? I wonder knowing what they know now would Lance, Mike or Rob act any differently? Unfortunately they may not get a second chance.
Copyright (c) 2013. Brian Smith-PLD. Not to be reproduced or copied without permission. Brian is available for speaking engagements, seminars and workshops. Find out what Brian can do for you and your organization by visiting http://briansmithpld.com
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