The heart of a good business is not profits or best-of-breed products and services. Those are results from what lies at the core of good business: good ethics.
Unethical behavior has derailed companies across industries. Since the beginning of the new millennium, there has been a string of high-profile scandals, from the implosion of energy giant Enron to the crises that claimed top executives at financial services firm Wells Fargo and ride-hailing company Uber.
Here we take a look at a five-step model for ethical decision-making that can prepare business leaders and other professionals to face a range of organizational challenges and personal choices.
- Know the Facts
Before tackling an ethical issue, clearly define the nature of the challenge. Often, it can begin simply with a process, or decision that makes a leader uncomfortable. That’s a warning sign. Take the time to explore the issue in detail.
- Identify the Required Information
You don’t know what you don’t know. List the information you will need to obtain in order to make an informed decision. Similarly, identify any assumptions being made about the specific ethical dilemma or challenge. A situation can change dramatically once all the facts are known, and making a decision based on incomplete information can be a pathway to disaster.
- List the Concerns
Now it’s time to explore all of the factors that can influence a decision. Who are the people involved in the ethical issue? What are their individual concerns? What are the pertinent laws? Do professional standards and codes of conduct for the specific industry come into play?
4. Develop Possible Resolutions
At this stage, begin looking in detail at potential resolutions and their likely outcomes. This is also an appropriate time to seek counsel from people with knowledge and expertise in relevant areas. Consider creative options that go beyond simple answers.
- Recommend an Action
It’s time to decide. Not making a choice is the wrong choice. Business leaders must work through these steps and arrive at a decision if they hope to retain trust among team members, executives, shareholders, and consumers. Any recommendation must also be implemented.
Maintaining an ethical organization is no easy task. However, it is essential to long-term success. A business without an ethical foundation eventually will run into trouble, as has been proven time and again.
Taking the time to master the steps of ethical decision-making is a must for business leaders.
Strategy. Business StartUps and Corporate Restructuring Consulting
Uwaoma Eizu is the lead strategist at Hexavia! He is a graduate of Mathematics with a PMP®, two MBAs and over a decade of experience working with startups and big businesses. His core is in building startups and in corporate restructuring. He is also a certified member of the Nigerian Institute of Management, Institute of Strategic Management of Nigeria and the Project Management Institute, USA. By the side, he writes weekly for the Business Day newspaper.