Jane writes: The summer riots raised many questions about values, morals and what is/isn’t acceptable behaviour within our communities. These questions apply whether the community we refer to is the place we live, an organisation we work in or contribute to, our family.
I caught up recently with a friend of mine who is working overseas. He described a Board meeting where the CEO deliberately humiliated his brother-in-law, an Executive Director, to punish him for a mistake he had made. My friend, the General Manager of the organisation, was appalled – this did not fit with the behavioural standards he was used to in the UK, or with the stated values of the organisation. He took some time to reflect on this incident, on his own and with the CEO, and a number of questions emerged. One of them was this: when working in a country where corruption, bribes and bullying are how business gets done, how can I maintain my ethical standards whilst also enabling my organisation to thrive?
Who decides what’s acceptable, what’s OK? You? Me? Them? We all have a view and they won’t all be the same. And who’s to say which is right? The reality is that they will all be right – for someone.
So what are ethics? The values and customs in the lives of particular groups of human beings are described as their ethics, and we experience these through notions such as rightness and wrongness. We meet ethical dilemmas on a daily basis. Do I share what I know about a planned restructure before the ‘official’ announcement? Do I challenge someone’s poor performance when I know their mother is dying?
In his book, ethicability, Roger Steare offers some questions that may help us to decide what’s ‘right’:
- What are the rules?
- Are we acting with integrity?
- Who is this good for?
- Who could we harm?
- What’s the truth?
As coaches we are guided by the International Coach Federation Code of Ethics.
What are you guided by?
Contact us if you’re facing an ethical dilemma and would like support to work out how to resolve it.