By Kirk Mccarley
Last time in this two part series, I discussed our yearning for honest and trustworthy leadership. I also shared a personal story about unethical behavior on the part of one executive who motivated me to depart an organization. We were left considering whether ethical compromise must always result in our leaving an otherwise attractive job.
First, have I always been 100% ethical in my professional life? Might have I made a personal copy on the office machine a time or two? Could I have accepted a meal here or there from a vendor? Ok, I’ve fessed up. Hopefully, however, I also improved over time through better insight, responsibility, wisdom, and maturity.
My intent as a coach is to first model ethical conduct with clients through an attitude of professionalism, moral integrity, full disclosure of expectation acknowledgement, and active listening to discern and understand their needs. Second, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) Code of Ethics provides an excellent template for establishing a solid honorable relationship with customers. Finally, I strive to achieve a clear understanding with a client that differences of opinion are encouraged: just because we differ on a topic is an inconclusive test as to whether, “I’m ethical and you’re not.”
Many of us know of Texas Instruments as a tech industry giant. In their business dealings they take a six step progressive approach to ethics that I’ve found quite helpful in making sense of what can be a “grey” subject.
- Is the action legal? If it’s not then don’t do it and the test ends there.
- Does the action comply with our rules, policies, and values? Again, if not the test ends.
- Although you may not like the decision you had to make, will you be comfortable and guilt free having made it? Again, if not, don’t do it.
- How would the action and the ramifications of it sound on TV or radio, or look on the internet? What would my family or friends think of my decision?
- If an immediate answer is required and you need time to process your response, always say no until there’s a chance to more carefully consider the situation.
- If in doubt, ask. Keep asking until you get an answer. Seek the counsel of someone you respect for demonstrating high ethical standards and a strong sense of right and wrong.
Ethics and conduct have a strong correlation to professionalism…and civility. As further consideration here is a short test I developed a few years ago. It would seem to have application to not only coaching, but many business environments.
- Do you carry through with what you say you are going to do?
- Can you be trusted? Are you respected by others? Why do they respect you? How do you know?
- Are you approachable? When was the last time someone came to seek your advice?
- What does your body language say to others? Are you inviting? Do you text or talk on the phone in the presence of others?
- Who mentors you? Who are you a mentor to? If you’re not involved in a mentoring relationship should you be?
- Remember, Perception = Reality.
Sometimes our actions to try to do the right thing are vindicated. Today, I am blessed to have the opportunity to coach a diverse and interesting array of unique people from around the US and Canada in pursuing their goals. The leader of that last organization I was with now serves a federal prison sentence for fraud and bribery.
A graduate of the University of North Texas, Kirk McCarley is a Certified Professional Coach as well as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and SHRM-CP Certified. He also is a Production Assistant for both college football and basketball for ESPN and leads group cycling classes as a Certified Spinning instructor. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, theseedsowercoach.com, or call 314-677-8779.