You wouldn’t believe the absurdity. Not too long ago, I was in a ballroom full of people, who were all there to practice creating solutions to ethical problems, using a case study.
For clarification, “ethical problems” involve lying, cheating, and stealing. Ethical problems are the undoing of most leaders these days; just read the daily news. In my experience, most of us struggle using ethics to solve problems, because we just don’t have the strength to have the conversation with our friends, with our boss, with our clients, to come around to doing the right thing.
- We don’t want to offend.
- We don’t want to get fired.
- And we certainly don’t want to lose money.
In this case study, we were sales executives who had just submitted a proposal on a piece of business that would have meant a lot of revenue for our company. Then, the Boss comes in, and says, “Hey, we just learned about some new competition. We need you to cut your price, and your delivery time, in half and resubmit the proposal. We need to win! In six months down the road, we’ll be deep into it, and we can renegotiate and charge the difference. The client really won’t have a choice, and everybody does that anyway.”
Well after a full hour, none of these people in the ballroom to come to a single, satisfying ethical solution to that clearly ethical problem. No one had the strength, the language, nor the process to properly challenge the Boss’s orders and create a win-win solution. They didn’t have the metrics necessary for success, to have the strength to come up with a “Wow!” solution that involves truth, that is right and good.
Instead of complaining about weak leaders in our church, our government, or let alone in business, I’m involved with the Authentic Leadership Foundation, to build strong leaders among our youth and adults. We need leaders of character to make difficult decisions, and do great things. We do this by showing leaders interested in growth how to be as certain about the language the process and the metrics of leadership, as they are certain that 7 + 3 = 10.