Saturday, May 26, 2007

Discussing Basic Values

In ethics workshops, it is not unusual to notice the extent to which people hunger to talk about the ethical challenges they've faced in their careers.

They've often avoided discussing the topic out of fear that they'd be regarded as self-righteous or accusatory or as wimps, but the related issues continue to trouble them. They go through training on sophisticated management or technical subjects and yet wrestle with the most profound challenges. Many of those are related to the basics such as:

Honesty. On which occasions is it ethically permissible to lie? When is it trumped by caring? In which ways do organizations discourage honesty?

Courage. How do we define it? What is moral courage? How should we regard fear?

Caring. When does caring become cruel? When is it an excuse for weakness?

Loyalty. Which organizations and individuals deserve our loyalty and where does that obligation end?

Respect. What are its elements and to which extent should it be given to all individuals?

Civic Duty. What are our responsibilities as citizens in a representative democracy?

How do we handle nonethical values such as popularity, success, and wealth?

Some teams take time out to brainstorm management issues. If the leaders want to capture lightning in a jar, they might want to consider discussing the basics and how those relate to the team's performance and values.

1 comment:

Cortes said...

As Winston Churchill once said, "in wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies."