In today’s extremely competitive environment, professionals who get ahead are even more aggressive than their counterparts, aggressively going after that sale, hustling to get that next opportunity, or towing the lines to get the edge ahead of the competitor. Regardless of the “game”, at the end of the day, there is right, and then there’s wrong.
The challenge isn’t one’s ambition but their ethical practice. Professional Ethics. The guidelines determine whether the action is right, questionable, or unethical. Regardless of the reasons or excuse one gives, at the end of the day, there’s the Right Thing to do, Hustling with Zealous Integrity, or doing what’s Wrong.
Sign of the Blurring of The Grey Area
Some businesses, leaders and people with opportunities get their big break or succeed because they strive in the grey area. They learn the system, figure out the loopholes and then take advantage of them, leaving their competitors at a disadvantage without legal recourse. Do you know anyone, or are you aware of anyone in this situation?
No one ever started off blurring the ethical line in business; it evolves over time with one micro-indiscretion, then once they get away, take the bigger and bigger risk until it becomes their modus operandi.
One-way professionals start blurring the grey line is by assuming they have equal ownership of a co-worker’s work without first discussing it with them or asking, especially if that work wasn’t published for distribution.
I recalled this bitter-sweet experience a while back. My supervisor invited me to a meeting to discuss a project with one of the senior resources from head office. I felt proud being invited to the discussion requiring my professional expertise, especially since I recently earned my stripes by completing phase 1 of a multi-million-dollar project in an impossible seven months. A project I worked tirelessly on effecting organizational change in communication, management practice and transparency at a level previously seen as too risky to the business. Working late nights to ensure that the business valued from the project and that it wasn’t just another case of software parading as a solution; being plastered on top of core issues as a fix.
Despite my youthful naivety, something felt off. It would have been more appropriate to provide a heads-up as to the organization plan instead of coming across as hijacking my work and only engaging me after they failed to understand the strategy.
Then it all shattered when I realized that the project plan they wanted to discuss was my project, copied and modified to replicate the solution in another office. Not only was my work butchered, but it was taken without any notice or heads up. Instead, I was sitting in a room with two senior members of the organization, educating them on project management, including explaining my critical and strategic thinking practices. At that moment, I felt cheated. I don’t mind sharing my work, training people, and helping when needed, but I do mind people assuming because I made it look easy that it was easy, assuming ownership and then, when they fail, to not explain or apologize, but expect me to help them.
I did it out of respect for my supervisor but lost some respect for my co-worker. Prior to this experience, I admired that person; after this, not so much.
Insider Trading, Trademark Infringement, Misleading Marketing Practices, and Manipulated Financials Statements are just a few common, highly damaging examples of unethical practices. Less obvious unethical practice includes Plagiarism, Pollution, and Abuse of Positional Power; which are decisions to pursue a course of action you know to be unethical yet decides to continue anyway because the chances of being caught are low.
Every action has consequences, whether the consequence is immediate or not. Plagiarizing someone’s work and presenting it as yours may not be called out; however, the person being cheated will eventually find out, it will be upsetting, and they will talk.
Peter Diamandis captures the essence of the consequence of unethical practice in his quote, “Bad news sells because the amygdala is always looking for something to fear.” The brain does not forget; it lives on as a lesson to remember, a message to share so others do not suffer the consequence you did, and also, because humans love justice, they will get involved when they notice an injustice being done. It is human nature in us to want others punished for their unjust behaviour.
“Bad news sells because the amygdala is always looking for something to fear.” ~ Peter Diamandis
Customer review, Social media and Networking Storytelling are means by which unjust practices can take on a life of their own; so before deciding to take an unethical risk, consider the real cost – damage to your reputation, damage to the business and even worst, your damage reputation through association, will impact those you love. It is not worth it.
Ethical, Sustainable Strategies:
Don’t despair; there are ethical strategies to give you the tools to get ahead and elevate your work experience so you stand out the right way and develop your ideas into solutions others will want to purchase. The best part is that it doesn’t have to take years; you can start benefiting in months with consistent practice. See our products page for more detail. Products – NM Corporate Strategy
If you want help or need coaching, reach out to those you admire – your mentors – because most successful people are willing to give back by helping others aspiring for success in their expertise. But do not assimilate their success as your own. This strategy may gain you short-term rewards; however, this practice will steal your credibility in the long term.
So, avoid the temptation to take the easy way out and make bad decisions which compromise yourself and the business.
It is also worthwhile to emphasize that not because you can get away with questionable action or that the other party has little to no legal recourse; doesn’t mean that it should be done.
- Leadership Processes – elevating Critical & Strategic Thinking
- NMCS Insights Blog
- Elizabeth Homes: Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes to begin 11-year prison term today | CBC News
- CEOs who believed they would not be caught: 5 Most Publicized Ethics Violations by CEOs (investopedia.com)
Reach out to NMCS
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