Be Ethically Strategic

Be strategic about ethics. It is rare that the ethics of an individual and the ethics of an organization agree completely. It is just as rare for the ethics of an individual and their co-workers agree perfectly. Being ethical does not mean being unwilling to compromise when the inevitable disagreements occur. If you are too rigid about your ethics, you are sure to limit your ability to influence the organization when it really matters. Ethical leaders compromise on small issues to build the personal capital needed to influence the big issues. You may disagree with others in your organization about whether an ad is deceptive. But if you are also concerned with a product safety issue, you might save your ethical capital for that fight. One thing that thwarts the success of ethical managers is being overly rigid about their ethics. It is worth compromising on the smaller issues in the interests of winning on the issues of significant ethical impact.

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