Ethics intelligence

Your ability to spot ethical implications and dilemmas in your actions and decisions, in the midst of increasing complexity, change and volatility, is a skill. It takes a fair amount of understanding what ethics is at a deep level, but more importantly, constant self-reflection. Building ethics intelligence within self is important, but leaders should also work towards building organisations that are ethics intelligent.

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Outsourced morality

It is incumbent on each of us to constantly evaluate whether our moral compass is still pointing to our true north. We need to continually ask ourselves whether our actions are informed by our own beliefs that we carefully considered, before we concluded that they are fit to be used in our moral compass. How certain are we that we are not just believing what we are because those around us believe it? Or, that we are believing what we are because those who we have crowned with a halo believe it? Applying one’s own mind is paramount if we were to avoid the temptation of outsourcing our morality to others.

Fear can be your friend or your enemy

Whether we like it or not, we were not designed to be fearless. Fear is an emotional response connected to a basic need we all have – to feel safe. In the evolution of the human brain, this had been encoded for a very good reason. Our fear response is designed to trigger an action from us. If it’s a lion, we run. If we were to convince ourselves that we should not show fear and stand our ground, the stand we take is probably going to be immaterial to a starving lion. His fear that you may also be a threat, would most certainly be overridden by his fear of starving to death. Human beings are in any event rather defenceless without our modern weapons.

Know your rhythm

It is important that we work with our rhythm instead of against it. That is a sure way to increase our productivity. In the last number of months, I have started to notice that the number one issue I am dealing with among my coachees is burnout. Often that is because of a lack of understanding of what their rhythm is. We look after ourselves as leaders because we need to give those we lead the best version of ourselves. Selfcare is part of our leadership responsibility.

2 Responses

  1. Dear Claudelle. Thank you for your talk on Ethical Intelligence. I agree with you that the “Ethics Behaviour” applies to each of us in what we say and do on a consistent basis. This is not only about fraud and corruption. I recently watched the movie called “Open Secrets” – which reflected the experiences of Katherine Gun as the Whistle blower of the company called GCHQ. She translated messages and was bound by the UK Secrecy Act. An email, sent to each person in
    GCHQ, were asked to assist in influencing the vote for the UK to join the USA in starting a war in Iraq in 2003. Her conscience, her ethics, her moral compass – in trying to stop the war from happening, in trying to saving innocent lives which would be lost unnecessarily, is what drove her to leak the email to the media. The question I have been asking myself, as a Citizen of Conscience, doing the right thing when I see unethical behaviour, contravention of Policies and Procedures, is when speaking up against this – one is marginalized, treated as an outcast, one becomes the pariah. The question begs another question – what pushes a person like Katherine Gun, Edward Snowden, Daniel Ellsberg, Anthony Russo etc. – what was different in their psyche that they took the action they did for the interest of the Public! So a very interesting topic to reflect on our own ethical choices we make when faced with such ethical dilemmas in each sphere of our lives, be in personal or career.

    1. Cynthia, you are yourself a wonderful example of bravery. A very important question we need to ask ourselves is why is it that some people are willing to pay the ultimate price and do what is right why the masses choose to keep silent. Self preservation seems to be a human aspiration that is both a blessing and a curse. Most people struggle to find the line between when self preservation is good and when it is bad for the greater good. As a society we have to ask very tough questions about the cultures we have created.

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