The Ethics Check

Given what is going on in politics, on (and off) Wall Street, and certainly at a once-revered college campus, I thought right now was a good time to pull out the Ethics Check. When Ken Blanchard and Norman Vincent Peale wrote The Power of Ethical Management in 1988, they eloquently stated that “the most difficult aspect of being ethical is doing what is right, not deciding what is right.”

Their model incorporates three questions:

  1. Is it legal?
    Will I be violating either civil law or company policy?
  2. Is it balanced?
    Is it fair to all concerned in the short-term as well as the long-term?
    Does it promote win-win relationships?
  3. How will I feel about myself?
    Will it make me proud?   Would I feel good if my decision was published in the newspaper? Would I feel good if my family knew about it?

Easy steps to follow, right? Unfortunately, I have observed that a preoccupation on a short-term “solution” is regularly what drives a leader’s decision. IF the issue is “tricky,” legal considerations might also be applied, for self-protection, of course. But sadly, a thorough consideration of the ethical behavior necessary from the responsible leader is often truncated from the decision process.

Ken and his co-authors are renowned for taking difficult topics and simplifying them. However “simple” the Ethics Check may seem, each of the three steps outlined above is necessary to follow. There are no short cuts in ethical behavior!

One thought on “The Ethics Check

  1. I remember discussing this issue when we had an opportunity to work with Mr. Blanchard in the early 90’s …. still true today!! “Managing by Values”….

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