First and foremost, I hope you are staying safe, staying home, washing your hands, and taking care of your health. Do not underestimate the danger of the Corona-virus. It is important – and could be a life or death decision for you and/or someone you love.
As I got on the airplane to take me home to take care of my dad, I thought how quickly the world has changed. For the first time I recognized the consequences of my own actions, in this case actions that could cause someone else to get sick or die. I weighed the options of whether or not to get on the plane and decided that my family needed me more at this time than ever before. And I thought I would like nothing more than to have the truth about the cause of Corona virus, testing for it, PPE availability, and other decisions being made right now for the good of not just our country but our world and our survival.
Truth – it is something we are all craving right now. It seems to be elusive, dependent on your source of information.
Spoiler alert – this article will provide my understanding of the truth about the our country’s response to Corona virus and how it correlates to business and ethics. If you don’t like truth or don’t what to hear it stop reading this article and go do something else. If you keep reading, be warned this article will make you think, possibly make you mad, and maybe get you thinking a little more about the consequences of your actions. For me, consequences may also include your choice to unsubscribe from this ezine or send it to a bunch of your friends, or even write me with your thoughts. I will publish all responses I get in my next ezine.
Since I do games and ethics scenarios, let’s explore an ethical dilemma.
Imagine the following workplace. In it the Big Boss allows business unit heads to actively compete against each other for limited critical resources necessary to make your products and then overrules the choices made by them. The Big Boss fires anyone who disagrees with him and ignores critical information from experts if it is bad news. The Big Boss frequently uses foul and abusive language and charges personal expenses to the company account even if unrelated to company business. And finally, Big Boss dismantles important programs and teams on a whim because they haven’t made him look good.
Is this a workplace where you would want to continue working? Is this how you would manage and lead your own team? Why or why not? What would you change?
Sadly, this is what we are experiencing from the leadership of our country in the way the Coronavirus pandemic is being managed. If this were a business, I venture a guess that most of us would not allow this type of behavior to continue because it is unethical and unproductive. In leadership positions we would shut this type of conduct down. But let’s change the perspective from politics to business and evaluate the ethical dilemmas and their consequences.
I like to say that every business conflict has an ethical value broken at its core. What is the overriding ethical value broken in this scenario? Ultimately, it is a lack of honesty, trust and respect. All of Big Boss’ actions in this scenario lead people to become confused about actions they can safely take, create a combative atmosphere devoid of collaboration, demean diversity and cause harm to the reputation and quality of the business.
Big Boss is focused on a selfish WIIFM attitude of what’s in it for me, ignoring consequences that may harm people, damage reputations and destroy relationships, not to mention the bottom line. In this environment it would be difficult to be loyal to the company, its people and its products. It would also be difficult to cultivate customer and brand loyalty, because the culture inside is reflected in how customer service is performed on the outside.
Sadly, I’ve worked in this type of environment. There is no loyalty, there is only survival of the fittest, protection of territory and stress levels through the roof. This type of culture makes it extremely difficult to hire high-quality people and keep them on the payroll. It makes it nearly impossible to foster an environment where people tell the truth and acknowledge their own mistakes. Instead people point fingers at others even if untrue just to protect themselves, or even worse, they stay silent when they know something is done unethically or illegally. And the ultimate consequence of Big Boss’ behavior is closing the doors to the business. For me none of these consequences are desirable.
So what would you rather have instead? And how would you go about changing this environment and this culture if you took over for Big Boss? I do not have all the answers so I’d love to hear your thoughts. Keep them clean and non-abusive, please.