A couple of days ago I was talking to a young man who had recently quit his job. He had ethical problems with the standards of the company. It was refreshing to meet someone whose personal values were strong enough to question the workings of her/his employer’s organization. In this instance the company was overcharging and/or double charging for services rendered and falsifying information on expense reports. The goal: to increase revenue and simply make more money. When this young man became aware of the practices and was asked to do these things, he chose to quit rather than compromise his integrity.
We had a great and lengthy discussion. I’ve been in that situation twice. I’ve left two jobs because my personal values were in conflict with the leadership. It’s not an easy position to be in. It’s certainly not an easy decision to make, especially when making that decision affects your family and your income. But I’ve learned strong leaders make decisions without crossing the line that compromises their personal values.
Some leaders cross the lines defining right and wrong. In the young man’s case; the leadership of the company made a decision that was not only unethical, but illegal. All for the sake of money. Bad decision? Unethical and immoral? It was the leader’s decision. This leadership had nothing to do with right and wrong: it was positional. Good or bad doesn’t necessarily depend on whether people will follow. Sometimes, people in leadership positions shouldn’t be there. They are not ethical or good leaders. Sometimes they have (or hold) a position of authority and use it to manipulate others and/or circumstances. That is labeled leadership, but shouldn’t be.
Real, authentic, great leadership is leadership that can be followed and trusted. It is true to high moral and ethical standards. It does what is right, not just what is expedient. It does what is right, not just what appears to be cost-effective. It does what is right without consideration of getting caught.
My father was always the greatest example of this important truth: “There is never a wrong time to do the right thing and never a right time to do the wrong things.” Real leadership is true to the highest human values and ideals.
Points to Ponder –
Have you ever had to sever a relationship over moral or ethical issues?
Have you been criticized because of your stance on an issue? Are you proud of the way you handled it? How could you have handled it more effectively?
Do you agree: “There is never a right time to do the wrong thing and never a wrong time to do the right thing”? Why? Why not?