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Transcending Ethics in Business and Everywhere Else

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:

  1. How well do I treat people from whom I can gain nothing?
  2. Am I transparent with others?
  3. Do I role-play based on the person(s) I’m with?
  4. Am I the same person when I’m in the spotlight as I am when I’m alone?
  5. Do I quickly admit wrongdoing without being pressed to do so?
  6. Do I put other people ahead of my personal agenda
  7. Do I have an unchanging standard for moral decisions, or do circumstances determine my choices?
  8. Do I make difficult decisions, even when they have a personal cost attached to them?
  9. When I have something to say about people, do I talk to them or about them?
  10. 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.

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He is the founder and CEO of Pole Position Marketing, a web presence optimization firm whose pit crew has been velocitizing websites since 1998. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries with his “bride enjoy” and his children. Read Stoney’s full bio.

5 Responses to Transcending Ethics in Business and Everywhere Else

  1. Matt McGee says:

    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.

    Very well said, Stoney.

  2. Jim Spencer says:

    These are indeed compelling questions. Any effort spent in considering them is time well spent, especially when the result is better ethically based choices.

    It is important to see this subject area presented over and over to counter the oft told stories of dishonesty, dishonor, corruption, cheating, evasion, prevarication and so on.

    I hope to see more posts on this and related subjects.

  3. Stoney G deGeyter
    Stoney deGeyter says:

    Thanks Jim, I frequently post on th topics of business, leadership, etc., along with our online marketing posts. Hope you enjoy!

  4. Bill Hartzer says:

    I agree with Matt that ethics are ethics…but there are times when we all will bend our own rules, right? What if you’re “testing” certain things and want to figure things out “for testing purposes”? Granted, I guess we all have certain “levels” of “how far we’ll go”, though, when it comes to ethics.

  5. Stoney G deGeyter
    Stoney deGeyter says:

    Hey Bill, what kind of testing are you talking about? I mean, if you’re “testing” the effects of murder in a small town by committing murder then you’ve obviously crossed the line of ethics. But if you’re testing “black hat SEO”, well then I don’t see how ethics are involved in that UNLESS you have either lied to your clients or are breaking some other kind of agreement. I know the murder example here is extreme but the point is valid. I don’t believe that there is such a thing as “seo ethics”. You either violate laws and agreements (unethical) or you don’t (ethical).