The 4th Biggest Ethical Mistake

The fourth biggest ethical mistake made by leaders is confusing legal advice with ethical advice. The job of legal counsel is to tell you the legal consequences of various courses of action – and not whether you should take those actions. Many of the investment activities that led to the 2008 recession were perfectly legal and also perfectly unethical. The training that makes a good lawyer does not make the lawyer an ethics expert.

Question re Ethical Mistakes

What ethical mistakes do you see leaders making? I have an odd view since I only hear from them when they have problems. What do you think?

Ethics Masters and Slaves

In my book Make an Ethical Difference I use the following quote: The master knows the rules without suffering them; the slave suffers the rules without knowing them.”

Medical Ethics

Several times each year, I give a seminar to roughly 50 doctors on medical ethics. What surprises me is that what medical ethics experts write about has little to do with the ethical issues doctors face on a day-to-day basis. Most medical ethics issues arise not because of new technologies or strange circumstances. They arise because we often surrender to the judgment of those closest to the situation to committees, such as the ubiquitous medical ethics committee. But there is no evidence at all that these committees make better decisions than the people directly affected. The question is often not what is the right thing to do but who should decide what is the right thing to do.

On Line Ethics Course

One of the most popular topics in my writing and speaking is how to influence ethically. I am pleased that SoundviewPro, which is the same company that does Executive Book Summaries, has made available a full video-based course titled “Influence with Ethics.” The course consists of four separate classes each built around practical tools for being effective at influencing with ethics. You can preview the course at  Be sure to let me know if the course helps you and how it can be improved.

How Much Agreement Is Enough

One of the excuses people give for not taking ethical action is that people never seem to agree about important ethical issues. In truth, people agree about ethics as much as they agree about science, art or anything else. It is time to put this excuse aside and Training Magazine has an article about this at

Be a Source of Ethical Influence

Some who have commented on Make An Ethical Difference: Tools for Better Action have pointed out that the tools provided for making an ethical difference are also good tools of influence. This makes sense since accomplishing something in ethics often means influencing people. Most discussion of influence are thinly veiled manuals on how to manipulate others. The problem with this is that people recognize that they have been manipulated and limit your future influence. When you influence with ethics, there is no rebound effect. In fact, your ability to influence grows as you learn to influence with ethics. A recent piece in CEO Magazine discusses just this point: