drive behavior and therefore need to be consciously stated, but they also need
to be affirmed by actions. Ethics is about behavior. In the face of dilemma, it
is about doing the right thing. Ethical managerial leaders and their people
take the “right” and “good” path when they come to the ethical choice points. A
compass is a relatively simple instrument based on a simple concept. With its
northward-facing needle, it is a consistent and true indicator of physical
direction. By placing ethics in
front of compass, we
evoke a clear picture of mental processes that point a person in a particular
direction in life. These processes are consistent and true indicators upon
which personal belief and action can be based. The concept of morality is also relatively simple at its absolute core. It
denotes conduct or duties based on what is right and wrong.
Morality is considered to be the basis of character and is wrapped
But while both the
concept of an ethical
compass and the definition of morality are simple and clear, the
concept of what constitutes morality is not. One person’s ethical compass may not point in the same direction as
another’s, as far as right and wrong conduct and belief are concerned.
By ensuring that our
actions reflect our values we are creating a positive organisational culture or
a common perception held by the organisation’s members. An Integrity Gap is created when behaviours
chosen are not aligned to your personal or group’s values. If there is frequent
value integrity gaps then the message being sent is that the values have no
substance or meaning within the organisation.
In a strong culture the
organisations core values are both intensely held and widely shared. The more members who accept the core values
and the greater their commitment to those values is, the stronger the culture.
Three forces play a
particularly important part in sustaining a culture: selection practices, the
actions of management and the way we consistently live our ethical compass on a
day to day basis
When faced with a difficult ethical decision, the
following three steps are helpful from David Lassiter at The Center for
Business and Ethics at Loyola Marymount University
Analyze the consequences/side effects of the decision
Who will be helped by what I do?
Who will be harmed?
What kind of benefits and harms are we talking about
How does all of this look over the long run as well as the
Analyze the actions.
Consider all of the options from a different perspective,
without thinking about the consequences.
How do the actions measure up against society’s moral
principles like honesty, fairness, equality, respecting the dignity of others,
people’s rights? (Consider the common good.)
Do any of the actions “cross the line?”
If there’s a conflict between principles or between the
rights of different people involved, is there a way to see one principle as
more important than the others?
Which option offers actions that are least problematic?
Make a decision. Take both parts of your analysis into
account and make a decision. This strategy at least gives you some basic steps
you can follow.
As Leaders, we need to take time
to reflect on a time to time basis to ensure our conscience is clear and our
ethical compass is consistent and accurate over a period of time.