The right thing to do


Putting your attention on what’s immediately in front of you at this moment and connecting what you observe with your head and your heart will put you far ahead of many leaders. It’s too easy to get caught up in the sweep of immoral decisions and ethical misconduct when you allow yourself to be distracted and pulled along by what other leaders are doing.

You are a leader and sometimes you have to do things that are hard. And a leader does the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do. You pay attention to what others are doing, and recognize when you won’t allow yourself to make decisions that are less than virtuous. You do what is honorable even if you get labelled as a renegade, an outlier, or someone who isn’t a team player.

Sometimes you must forego your own sense of personal safety (financial, emotional, or physical) and do what is right. At the end of your life, you want to be able to say you always took a stand and did the right thing. You will be able to know that you stayed in tune with your values, your ethics, and your moral compass.

So you know that you absolutely must:

Notice injustice as it plays out in how people are treated. This requires you to focus on the moment. More than noticing, do something about it! Office politics may feel petty and small, but they can often play out in ways that wound others deeply. Business environments do not need to be unfeeling; you can use your voice and your feet to make a difference to those who are being treated poorly, even if they aren’t directly in your organization. It’s not “none of your business” if injustice is occurring. A leader would act!

Surface the elephants when everyone else is afraid to. The hierarchical nature of organizational environments (and I can say with some truth that even organizations who claim to NOT have a hierarchy have one in some form) can have a way of skewing your compass from true north. The speed required to be competitive and the decisions that need to be made with minimal information can have a way of making you feel it’s acceptable to forego vetting decisions and actions that just don’t feel right.

Confront immoral and unethical behavior by speaking your truth. Even if it needs to be spoken to those who seem to have more power than you do. True power comes from your heart, your moral compass. When you feel it’s being compromised speak up no matter how difficult it may be. Break through the fear of the negative impact it may have on your career because you want to walk away knowing you did what was right.

Stay present, tuned into what is right in front of you. Notice the injustices and do what is right. Your future self with be glad that you did.

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Mary Jo Asmus is the founder and President of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC, an executive coach, writer, internationally recognized thought leader, and a consultant who partners with organizations of all kinds to develop and administer coaching programs. She has “walked in your shoes” as a former leader in a Fortune company.


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