As a leader, you will face many challenging situations in which you will need to make difficult decisions. It is up to you to make decisions for yourself, your organization, and for those that follow you. There are often times in which your morals and ethics will be challenged, particularly when confronted or pressured by your leaders with a strong inclination to make a decision in a certain direction. Often, decisions need to be made quickly in order to ensure mission success. Other times, difficult decisions simply need to be made. In any situation, it is imperative to keep in mind that the right decision does not necessarily mean the easiest. Although a bit cliché, the adage fits – choose the difficult right over the easy wrong.
Ethics and morals are often used as synonyms for each other. Some would argue that an individual’s morals differ from their ethics. Morals are often associated with an indivuals perspective and personal beliefs such as religion and values. Ethics are often defined within a group or organization as a set of rules and guidelines to follow. Still, each of us has our own set of rules, our personal ethics and morals, which define our character. Abiding by this set of rules will ensure that an individual’s character is not discredited. Regardless of what you and I call them, we all have our own personal set of rules. At the end of the day, we must live with the decisions that we make. If I end my day knowing that my decisions have not discredited my character, I have had a good day regardless of the outcome.
The right, more difficult decision, may challenge you in many ways. For some this may be a personal sacrifice such as staying late at the office or forgoing a bonus or raise in order to retain an employee or award a stellar employee with that bonus or raise. Others may face a more physical challenge such as enduring hardships and physical strains such as deployments, extended periods of sleep deprivation to ensure mission success, and family separation to get the job done. For some this may be an emotional challenge such as confronting a friend, colleague, or leader who are making unethical or immoral decisions. Regardless of the situation, the difficult right is still right.
A retired US Army Chief Warrant Officer Four provided some simple sound advice when I was challenged with a tough decision. Make the right decision and the rest will work itself out. Some situations may work themselves out in ways that you had not desired; you may miss the bonus, experience physical pain, or anger your supervisor, but your character will remain.
What will you choose?
Jared W. Snow