Many of the thorniest issues we face in our lives are less about right versus wrong than about right versus right.
Across cultures, most people feel a strong sense of right and wrong. When facing an ethical dilemma, they generally want to do the right thing. Yet they often fail to follow through for fear of negative repercussions, especially at work. Perhaps you chose an unethical path in a past situation, but you’ve made better choices other times, so you know you can act on your values.
Most management schools’ ethics classes focus on various models of logical thinking that can help you make an informed choice about the right course of action. However, these courses often fail to teach you how to implement your decisions.
Eastern philosophies say to go with the flow of your energy and not fight it. Adopting that attitude will help you act on your ethics. First, open your mind, if only temporarily, to the 12 core assumptions for values-driven action:
- You want to “voice and act upon” your values.
- You have voiced your values in the past.
- You can voice them “more often and more effectively.”
- Some situations lend themselves to voicing your values more easily than others.
- You’re likelier to act on your values if you practice in advance.
- The example you set by voicing your values holds great power.
- Acting on your principles empowers others to do the same. You may never know who.
- The more aware you are of your values, the better you can leverage your strengths and minimize the effects of your limitations.
- You are not alone; you have more support than you realize.
- Standing up for your values is always worthwhile, whether you prevail or not.
- Voicing your values leads to better decision making.
- The more you think you can act on and speak of your values, the more likely it becomes that you will keep doing so.
The power and effectiveness of our efforts to voice and act on our values are often driven by the power and persuasiveness of the stories we tell about them.