As choices and challenges become more complex, it is increasingly difficult for leaders to know how to “do the right thing.” Is doing the right thing completely defined by the organization’s stated values? What if those values end up causing the company to do harm to others or to the environment? Does doing the right thing depend only on our own personal values? Can we really afford to live and lead within our own version of the world, without consideration for the other people in it and the greater good? As leaders, our decisions potentially have broad impact on people and the planet that they rely on for their survival. Ethical leaders consider the broader impact of decisions. They work to find options that are win-win, creating value for the company and for the broader constituents the company serves, while avoiding harm to people and the environment. As we make decisions every day, we should consider the broader impact of our choices, and choose actions that create the most value while avoiding harm. These ethical options are often not the first choices we think of, and are often best discovered using an ongoing open dialogue with employees, customers and other stakeholders. It is our responsibility as leaders to make it easy for people to raise questions, and to receive those questions as attempts to improve the organization, rather than attempts to question our authority.
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