If you are not familiar with Guy Kawasaki, or know of him but have yet to read his blog, be sure to check out his recent post titled, “Lessons for Entrepreneurs: Ignoring Is Bliss and Then Some.” While the post is about lessons learned from listening to or ignoring the opinion of others when pursuing new business ideas, there is a nugget toward the end that really caught my eye (emphasis mine):
“If you believe in something, go for it. This is the only way to really find out. Mathematically, the naysayers are right 95% of the time, but believing you’re in the 5% is what makes entrepreneurs entrepreneurs.”
I’ve highlighted the above for two reasons:
- In reference to my previous post about why people stay silent about ethical issues at work, I would guess that the above statistical mix may have a lot to do with whether an individual has the confidence to go against the grain or fall in line with it. In fact, after looking at the top four reasons people stay silent (listed in the post), three of the four could be tipped by a firm conviction (the 5%) that what what the individual has to say was important, regardless of the negative pressure (the 95%) to keep it to him/herself.
- I think it is an excellent principal. I admire Guy Kawasaki a wanted to take an opportunity to point readers to his blog. His message is continually positive and in line with ‘the glass is half full,’ but also on the whole, very useful.
Let’s translate the above into a set of ideals as they pertain to situational ethics:
- Step 1: Examine your belief about an issue without external input. If after an internal analysis you have formed a firm opinion about whether the issue is ethical or not, go with your gut. Make a note of your opinion and proceed to Step 2.
- Step 2: If the issue arises at work and you have a Code of Ethics to consult, be sure to vet the opinion you formed in Step 1 against the content of your company’s code. If your company doesn’t have a Code of Ethics, it should get one !
- If your opinion from Step 1 agrees with your company’s code, fret no more and proceed with conviction.
- If it disagrees, consider carefully whether the issue is beyond the scope of your company’s code (and therefore not addressed sufficiently) or mishandled. In either case, elevate the issue to the appropriate individual (most likely your company’s ethics officer or an appointed committee).
- If the issue is not company-specific or you have no Code of Ethics to refer to, perhaps it is time to proceed to Step 3.
- Step 3: Remind yourself of your decision from Step 1 and reaffirm your commitment to that decision. Then and only then, should you seek the input of others. Weigh their opinions carefully and take them with a grain of salt. In the end, if there is not a consensus with your own opinion, only detract from it if you are absolutely certain that you were wrong.
All of the above hinge on whether you have conviction. Believe in yourself and trust your judgment and analysis.