How Strong is Your Ethical Compass?

The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionable integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in the office. -Dwight D Eisenhower

As part of our leadership development course we focused on our ethical compass and how it guides our behaviour and decisions as leaders.

The Challenge

From time to time, in our personal and professional lives, we come across people and opportunities that seem engaging, exciting and worthy of further exploration.

Sometimes the best things in life are those we stumble upon or that seem to come quite serendipitously out of nowhere!  And indeed, explore we must.  NEW horizons and development only arise through venturing into the unknown, pushing the envelope and taking an “experimental” stance towards such invitations.

As the old saying goes, “if we do what we have always done, then we will get what we have always gotten!”

Some Probing Questions

At the same time, though, it is worth being mindful of the following questions to guide your explorations when confronted with a mixed/tempting situation:

1)  Is this opportunity congruent with your values, beliefs and guiding principles?

2)  If not, which of your values and beliefs are non-negotiable?

3)  How can you continue to be mindful of this so you don’t find yourself going down a slippery slope of compromises later?

4)  Do you know when it is time to walk away?

5)  What are the benefits of engaging in this particular project or partnership?  What about the costs?

6)  What is your intuition, inner voice or other ‘body signals’ conveying to you about the venture or people involved?  Do you feel reasonably at ease or is there some internal angst and agitation? (You may not have words for what this is yet. Being uncomfortable is part of the process.)

7)  What are some questions that remain unanswered? Making a note of these and finding answers for these will certainly help.

Asking questions which don’t have an immediate answer is still more advancing than not identifying and raising these questions.

The impact of choices you make

We get confronted with situations and challenges – big and small – all the time. As my executive client said the other day, “Given my particular challenge, I could get away with a very expedient solution but the cost of not doing the right thing is too high. My reputation and integrity will be tarnished forever.”

As we navigate ourselves through our lives, we soon realize that choosing between right and wrong can be fairly straight forward but it’s the choosing between what could be “right and right” or choosing between two different values both of which you hold dear.  In these instances, we need to consider the whole package and make choices based on what is right for you and or your business right now including the risk you are willing to tolerate.

Doing the right thing and peace of mind

If doing the right things and peace of mind are high order values then playing the high stakes game will not work for you. The old Indian sages have espoused the virtues of faith, peace, a calm state of mind and patience with beautiful words like  ‘Shraddha’ (Faith), ‘Shanti’ (Peace) and ‘Saburi”(Patience).

In our lives, with a multitude of demands coming our way, it is worth being mindful of not just what we are ticking off but the state of mind and presence with which we do things.  This may mean, at times, not rushing into things headlong and backing ourselves even if it means standing alone for a while. With time, the true nature of things including people gets revealed.  Truth always has a way of coming out.

Reflection points:

· What is a decision you have to make which might benefit from some further gestation, reflection and or investigation?

· How do you walk the fine line so no matter what your integrity and values stay intact and support you?

· What personality trait or competing value might block you from seeing things more objectively?

Keep in mind that no matter how tempting things maybe one thing money can’t buy is integrity.

The Value of Integrity = Priceless!


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Photo by Heidi Sandstrom on Unsplash

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