How To Make Ethical Decisions In Leadership

We’ve seen multi-million dollar organizations fall because of a failure of integrity and ethical decisions. Think back on organizations such as:

  • Enron
  • Valeant Pharmaceuticals 
  • Kobe Steel
  • Even the mighty Apple has made unethical decisions with battery-gate

Some of the above organizations made it through their unethical choices. Others failed and closed their doors.

Multiple skyscrappers with the photo taken from the ground.

Photo by Samson on Unsplash

As a leader, you must be aware of your decisions and understand that unethical decisions will lead to major consequences. You also have the power to change them.

But how do you make ethical decisions? What if your organization isn’t known to make the best choices? How do you lead in these situations?

Let’s take a look at 5 ways to make ethical decisions.

How To Make Ethical Decisions In Leadership

1. Gain clarity on the decision:

You can’t make a good decision without gaining clarity on the issue and the decision you’re making. Collect data, figure out what needs to be done and by whom, and more aspects of the decision.

The more you know about the decision you have to make, the easier it will be to make the ethical decision. 

2. Evaluate your possible decisions:

There’s clarity to the issue. That’s step one. Now, you need to think about the possible decisions you can take.

Will you let go of multiple employees? Could you take a pay reduction? Is there a third solution? 

There are always multiple decisions you can take when solving a problem. I recommend evaluating three or four possible decisions that you can take.

This line of thought allows you to have multiple courses in front of you. There’s no one specific decision you have to choose from.

3. Write out your concerns:

Now you know what the issue is. You’ve gained clarity. And you have a few possible decisions before you.

Now what?

Write out your concerns about the possible decisions you can make. This list can include the big and small things that concern you about your upcoming decision.

The list will be a guide to help you understand the consequences and reactions you could face. It also enables you to think through your process. You may discover one of your possible decisions could lead down a bad path.

Think through your decisions by writing out and evaluating your concerns.

4. Do the right thing:

You’ve now gotten clarity, listed out possible decisions, and listed the concerns you and others have about them. What’s next?

You have to choose to do the right thing.

You know what you have to do. You know which decision will be ethical. Make that choice and follow through.

5. Ask if your grandmother would be proud of the decision: 

The last thing you need to do to help you make more ethical decisions is to ask yourself if your grandmother would be proud. It seems like a silly little thing, but it’s not.

By thinking of the sweetest, kindest, most honest person you know, you can put the onus of your ethical decision on them. Just thinking about whether or not your grandmother, godparent, or someone close to you would be proud can be the tie-breaker when it comes to making the decision.

Ethics Matter

Point blank: ethics matter. The way you make decisions, the paths you take, the life you lead… It all revolves around ethics.

Make ethical decisions and you won’t have to worry about whether or not you did the right thing. You will know you did.

If you don’t make ethical decisions, you’ll continue to look behind you. You’ll wonder who will be coming for you or what price you’ll have to pay.

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