I’ve gone on the record before stating that I don’t particularly like the term “business ethics.” To me, ethics are ethics and they are pretty much universal. You either have them or you don’t. I just don’t think a person can separate ethics into categories.
Can a person be ethical personally but unethical in business? Or can one be ethical in business but dishonest in his personal life? Sure a person may try to draw such distinctions and they very well may be able to maintain that separation, but the fact remains, if they lack integrity in one area, other areas will be compromised and called into question. That’s the nature of dishonesty!
John Maxwell and Jim Dornan, in their book Becoming a Person of Influence provide some valuable questions that we can ask ourselves about our own integrity:
- How well do I treat people from whom I can gain nothing?
- Am I transparent with others?
- Do I role-play based on the person(s) I’m with?
- Am I the same person when I’m in the spotlight as I am when I’m alone?
- Do I quickly admit wrongdoing without being pressed to do so?
- Do I put other people ahead of my personal agenda
- Do I have an unchanging standard for moral decisions, or do circumstances determine my choices?
- Do I make difficult decisions, even when they have a personal cost attached to them?
- When I have something to say about people, do I talk to them or about them?
- Am I accountable to at least one other person for what I think, say, and do?
How you answer the questions above can give you an idea if there are areas that you need to work on. Let’s be clear, no one is perfect. We all mess up. But I strongly believe integrity shows itself best in how we handle those screw-ups.
I’ll leave you this week with this, also given to us by Maxwell and Dornan:
Many succeed momentarily by what they know;
Some succeed temporarily by what they do; but
Few succeed permanently by what they are.