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Practical Ethics: Four Paths to Greater Virtue

By Frank Bucaro, CSP, CPAE

It is no surprise to me that, in this day of comprised ethics and values, there is an ever increasing number of books and articles highlighting the importance of ethics and values in everyday life.

Ethics, ethical behavior, and taking personal responsibility for choices are even more important in business today. It is with this in mind, that I would like to share with you a few reflections on ethics to help us all maintain that high standard of thought and behavior.

To help guide us along that route, here are four ideas for your consideration.

1. WHAT IS THE COMMON GOOD,AND WHAT ROLE DOES IT PLAY IN OUR DECISION MAKING?

In all of our businesses, this question needs some consideration. Generally speaking, what is good for the "other", whether it be our customer, staff, spouse, family, etc., takes precedence over our own needs and wants.

I think we all would agree that sometimes, in business, egos take precedence over good business practices, and good relationship building, and overall. Can get in the way of truly being of service.

We need to ask whether we are in business for ourselves, or to take our gift and talents to the workplace and in the spirit of service -try to make a difference in the lives of those we serve.

When our ego (i.e. needs) gets in the way of that service, the common good no longer is served. And as in any business, word spreads - and how do we fight a damaged reputation?

Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to be truly "other focused" as a key factor in maintaining your ethical balance. Whether it is amongst ourselves, as business professionals, or in dealing with our customers, staff, etc., this question needs to be asked, "What can I do for you to get you to cooperate with me?"

This simple question reflects the age old saying that life is in the giving, not in the getting, and to the degree to give is to the degree you get. One can never go wrong in putting other people's feelings, needs, and concerns ahead of our own. This concept of the common good needs some consideration before a decision is made.

2. THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNAL WISDOM

It seems to be in business today, we sometimes tend to be too narrowly focused to see a bigger picture. There is a tendency, at times, to see our way as the only way or our approach as the only approach. It seems necessary, if you're ever uncertain whether something you want to do is ethical, appropriate, or acceptable, to find colleagues, friends, etc. who you know are "for you" and bounce your choices off them.

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November 2005