• May 2015
Add an event

Ethical Edge Letters on Integrity  

Click here for Russell Williams' bio

Tuesday, October 05, 2010
'It's not just opportunity'
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Fail into success
How do you think about ethical action?

“There is no pillow as soft as a clear conscience.”
— John Wooden

In his book, "The Heart of a Leader," published in 1999, Ken Blanchard writes: “In today’s competitive environment, some leaders are tempted to abandon ethical considerations. These leaders are jeopardizing far more than they imagine.”
Eleven years down the road, Blanchard’s words could be labeled prophetic!

The battle cry for ethical leadership in business has gone big time! I believe it will continue for years to come. A basic organizational ethics question is now in play on Main Street and Wall Street: Do business leaders think about ethical action as a function of compliance or a calling for cultural change? In organizations where ethics leadership pursues only compliance, corporate officers and structures are put in place that detail programs and inform employees about What Not to Do. In contrast, where ethics leadership explores culture, leaders focus on investing in education, initiatives and organizational structures that inspire employees – bottom up and top down – to understand the internal motivation of ethical actions with the call for clarity on What To Do to bring positive, sustained change to organizational brand trust.

The fact is, creating business climates that inform all stakeholders on what not to do and what to do are both important. But, only culture change moves an organization and those who serve it to embrace the big ethical vision expressed in Wooden’s sage consideration on a clear conscience.

The "soft pillow of a clear conscience" provides clarity for understanding what constitutes the ethical life stories of individuals and organizations. An organization’s ethical focus always moves on the conscience pulse of the choice making of the one multiplied. Organizations that pursue the story of positive culture celebrate ongoing ethical discovery! For such organizations, ethics is not defined simply as governance but is experienced as continual learning, growth and mastery shaped on the anvil of failure. Thriving ethical business cultures are driven less by words and more by shared beliefs and behavior that creatively give life to the vision of an organization’s influence for good.

Mission Integrity Action

Three evenings this coming week when your head hits the pillow, let your candid camera of integrity observation come alive with an exercise using Wooden’s quote. Let your thoughts rest on a question: How did my behavior promote, empower and educate today’s story of ethical excellence in my relationships at work and in the community? Allow your day’s review to reveal where you were an influence for ethical excellence. Also, observe how other colleagues and associates were or were not pursuing clear conscience actions.

Russell Williams,
Passkeys Foundation/Ethical Edge