Recognizing Ethical Issues (Part 1)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

When a plane experiences heavy turbulence, a light on the overhead panel alerts passengers to take a seat and fasten their safety belts. The instructions are clear, people know what to do, and it’s usually an orderly process. When people make decisions in their daily rounds, though, there is no external alert or audible alarm to signal that they are stepping into an ethical issue or an ethical gray area and need to carefully consider ethical issues. This can be a problem, especially because there are so many cognitive biases working against us as we try to make responsible decisions.

Since there’s no early warning system alerting us to ethical issues, we need to proactively develop our own internal alert system.

While developing our own alert system sounds like a good idea in theory, in reality piecing together ethics information from laws and regulations and the organization’s values (and turning all of it into good choices) is difficult.

The best way for us to begin to develop our own internal alert systems is to learn ethical thinking. In Part 2 of this series, I’ll go on to explore why we all haven’t already developed this internal alert system.

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership  

© 2022 Leading in Context LLC

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