By Linda Fisher Thornton
With all the inappropriate behavior in the news, I thought it would be a good time to explore the difference between actions that are CONVENIENT and those that are APPROPRIATE. Instead of saying “I’ll know appropriate when I see it” it seems necessary to break it down and articulate the difference clearly. So here goes…
Convenient is choosing the quick and easy solution. Appropriate adds considering the ethical impact.
Convenient is thinking about what we want. Appropriate adds thinking about what others want and expect.
Convenient is getting as much as we can from a deal. Appropriate makes sure the other parties get their needs met too.
Convenient is getting all the attention. Appropriate is showing humility and sharing the spotlight.
Convenient is doing something whenever we want to. Appropriate adds consideration for proper timing.
Convenient is saying whatever we feel like saying. Appropriate is being respectful and considerate even when it’s difficult.
The difference between convenient and appropriate is adding VALUES to the equation. Ethical values. Business values. Leadership values. Convenient actions are self-serving. Appropriate actions meet the needs of self while honoring the needs of others and respecting the boundaries of appropriate interpersonal behavior.
Acting without values may be convenient (and we’ve seen plenty of examples), but it’s not leadership. You could call it grandstanding, power-grabbing, self-serving, opportunistic, immature or incompetent. The list could go on and on. When an action is convenient and not appropriate, don’t call it leadership. Leadership is about moving beyond concern for self to also consider the well-being and success of others. Without that ability, a person is simply self-serving, and not fulfilling the other-serving job of “leader.”
To learn a process for thinking through the ethical implications of any situation, read 7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership.
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