Recognizing Ethical Issues (Part 4)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

In Part 1 of this series on Recognizing Ethical Issues, I addressed the gaps in our thinking that require us to develop an ethical alert system. in Part 2, I explored why some leaders who want to do the right thing still don’t “do the work” to learn how to do it. In Part 3, I dug into the importance of ethical awareness as the basis for ethical decision making. This week, in Part 4, I will explore how you can develop ethical thinking.

After developing ethical awareness, a first step in developing ethical thinking is to become aware of the ethical self, and the factors that make it difficult to maintain, as well as learning the difference between critical thinking and ethical thinking. Critical thinking narrows our perspective to a conclusion, but doesn’t necessarily include consideration of ethical factors unless we intentionally add them into the process. Values should always be central to our thinking to anchor it, or we can fall victim to deciding what to do based on other factors such as convenience, ego or personal gain.

Applying ethical decision making includes carefully considering the context of the issue, and seeking to understand its nuances and complexities. It also helps to be aware of the many ways that our thinking can go astray when we are trying to make an ethical choice.

While we’d like to think that we make ethical decisions in every situation, ethical decision making doesn’t just happen unless it is intentional and focused. In Part 5 of this series, I will address recognizing ethical issues in current events.

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership

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