I can guarantee you’ll face a major moral/ethical dilemma situation at least once in your career. Even if you make the right decision, you’re still at risk for bad things happening. Here are some tips on navigating those sticky situations.
Today’s post is by Mike Figliuolo, Managing Director of thoughtLEADERS.
When I was a cadet at West Point, we learned the Cadet Prayer. We didn’t learn it as part of some religious education but rather because there were points in it about ethics. The one line that stood out for all of us was “Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.”
Sounds awesome in theory, much tougher in practice.
There have been times I’ve lived up to that and others I’ve fallen miserably short. I’ve had friends, colleagues, and clients have similar experiences. While it sucks to choose the easier wrong and deal with the consequences later, it’s even worse to choose the harder right and still get screwed over when bad things happen to you as a result.
I’d like to offer some thoughts on how you can protect yourself when you’re choosing to follow the moral high road. It’s a funny thing – when you’re walking up on the high road, you make yourself a nice, big, target silhouetted against the skyline. In situations where you’re doing the right thing, someone else is probably doing the wrong thing. Those are the folks who will try to take that shot at you while you stroll along the high road. If you don’t protect yourself, you’re going to find bad things happen to you. Sometimes those people taking the shot will walk away from the situation unscathed. Now that is a bad outcome. Here’s how to avoid it.
If you’re going to make a difficult choice, be sure you’re right. Calling the Ethics Line? Ensure you have all the proof of wrongdoing you need before picking up that phone. If you’re filing a report and it comes to light that you’ve submitted inaccurate information, you’ve just made some hefty accusations against someone that weren’t warranted. Even if nothing happens to them, you’ve tarnished their reputation. You can expect some less-than-favorable responses from doing so. Also realize the Ethics Department won’t look too kindly upon you for filing a “false report.” Be absolutely, unequivocally right before reporting something.