All have our temptations that we must handle if we are to remain ethical and principled leaders and professionals. To avoid falling victim to ethical temptations it’s imperative that we do more than just think about our values and establish decision-making processes.

Dealing with Ethical Dilemmas

On a very deep level we need to know and understand ourselves and the temptations we face at work and beyond  and then we need to organize our lives to protect ourselves from those temptations. To achieve this there are some practical guidelines to consider:

  1. It’s really important to develop a list of the various ethical temptations that you face in your current work position.  A temptation can be defined as a desire for something bad or unacceptable, a desire a craving for something especially something considered to be wrong.  The goal of temptation mapping is to proactively identify the things that can destroy you if you give into that temptation.
  2. Once you know now what you’re up against it’s time to develop your situational awareness, the purpose of this step is to avoid putting yourself in circumstances where you will be exposed to harmful temptations and prone to act on them.  Know your personal strengths and weaknesses and whatever possible stay away from situations and people that might cause you to stumble.
  3. Developing your situational awareness will enable you to take the next step and create a personalized code of conduct. Most organizations have corporate codes of conduct but our research shows that each one of us needs to personalize and own our own code of conduct given the particular ethical temptations that we face.  And, whatever your personal code of conduct looks like make it yours.
  4. Make yourself accountable. To adhere to an ethical code of conduct is critically important to foster both personal and professional accountability with a person or persons strong and honest enough to be your mentor friend and watchdog. It’s interesting to note that many people and especially senior leaders get caught up in wrongdoing at a time in their lives or careers when they’re experiencing a sense of isolation and a lack of real friends whom they can count on.
  5. When confronted with an ethical trial or dilemma immediately tell a confidant who you trust. Without having another person as a sounding board we just might not have the confidence to take decisions in complicated ethical dilemmas.
  6. Keep your financial, your physical and your emotional house in order. Doing so will make you will be much less susceptible to the lures of greed, jealousy, addiction or lust. In the words, living within our means avoiding addictive substances and taking great care to protect and maintain and grow our critically important relationships is paramount. Not only to our continued professional success but more importantly to the things in life that really really count.
  7. Be aware of the trap of being emotionally expansive. A good psychologist will tell you that people are emotionally expansive when they feel that whatever they have is never good enough. They always want more of everything without appreciating what they already have. If we live this way we are destined to be in a constant state of frustration over what we don’t have instead of being thankful and appreciative for what we do have.
  8. When making a decision about whether to do something that we might consider to be in a gray area, or questionable, or maybe even flat out wrong, ask yourself this critically important question:
    What will be the long-term consequences of this decision to my character, profession, career and family when others find out about my actions? The odds are they will eventually find out.

Guard your heart

To conclude,  “all of us need to be reminded on a regular basis that a leader’s reputation and lifetime of work can be destroyed in an instant by making unethical or immoral decisions in the workplace. It’s imperative to guard your heart from going down the dark paths that confront all of us”.

One  CEO said it and I read this at some point somewhere. So, as you make your decisions at work and life on a daily basis this is really important: guard your heart. Be fair and don’t give up to temptations. That’s all you need to know about ethics at workplace.

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