If there was a Top 10 overused sayings in business – I would vote that there would be something on there about ethical or moral dilemmas like .. I didn’t know they were doing that or it wasn’t my responsibility and so on.

Ethics is one of those damned if you do and damned if you don’t topics and there is simply no simple solution, a nice rule to rule all rules.

What makes it even more complex is that these ethical and moral dilemmas are different across countries, politics, regulations, cultures and even the individuals within.

In a business context this makes things extremely difficult as the reality is that what might then be seen as acceptable behaviour in one country would be totally unlawful or frowned upon in another. So how do you go about making decisions that is in the best interest of the company?

And what exactly does “best interest” mean? This also can mean different things to different people.

In such a complex world, how do we gain clarity? My advice to you is to try to keep it as simple as possible and find some guiding principles that you can reach for when things become convoluted.

Some ideas to help you build these principles are:

1. The sleeping test. When you reach a decision on an “ethical matter”, pause and don’t act. Wait till the next day and see how you sleep – if you find you are at peace then your decision is most likely inline with your ethics.

2. The spotlight test. Imagine yourself in court on the witness stand and being questioned on your actions. What will you say? How will it sound? This provides you with perspective.

3. The mirror test. Imagine you are on the receiving end of your decision. How would you feel about it? What will your thoughts be? As the old saying goes, do unto others as you would do unto you.

May your nights be restful 🙂