Take a moment to choose...
Thu, May 16, 2013
Who Cares About Ethics?
As a professional, the occurence of ethics (or lack there of) has popped up so frequently that it has been the subject of intense conversation lately. I am amazed at the how some of the leaders of our organizations behave.

What is more surprising, is that so many of the business community tolerates it. Many professionals even expect "bad business ethics" from certain groups and play along anyhow.

Don't we do this in our personal lives as well? We do. But why?

First of all, there is no such things as "personal ethics" or "business ethics"-there are ethics and there are those that just don't have any.

Secondly, if you choose to conduct yourself ethically in some circumstances because it is in your best interest to do so, that does not make you an ethical person or business. With ethics, you either adopt it as a rule and have them, or you don't. You don't get to slip on a regular basis and still call yourself an ethical person.

Everyone makes mistakes or bad calls but consistency and intent is key.

Third, behaving unethically is like airing your dirty laundry all over the place-it says "Hey everyone! I am a self centered, personal-benefit driven individual (or business) and I take the easy route, the low road and I always put my best interests first! Don't expect much!"

Lastly, this kind of behavior does not, in the end, serve you at all. Have you ever intentionally followed patterns the "unethical cycle"? I sat down and considered a local company that has a reputation for being an organization to avoid, yet they believe they have everyone fooled. They are a self serving business with poor quality and a good many unhappy clients. And the consequences are manifested in everything I just mentioned; terrible reputation, poor quality, unhappy clients, and more seriously, a lack of faith in their future endeavors.

Take this concept home: when we are talking about our personal lives, we are talking about our relationships with people where the impact has far more benefits and consequences. Treating others ethically is about resisting the temptation to follow self serving actions that result in a negative impact on others.

To me, ethical behavior is about respect, authenticity, honesty and taking the high road (oh, that lonely road!) when it would be easier not to.

As leaders in our own lives and in our organizations, it is important to remember that our choices indeed could "echo an eternity". At the end of the day, what do you want to be known for? How do you want to impact the lives of other people?

We all want to "self serve" - choosing the right thing is the ultimate.

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