The terms noble, virtuous, ethical or moral seem out of date.
In fact they seem to be words right out of a fairy tale. Words and concepts that have faded away with the modern world and it’s complexity.
Perhaps it’s not cool to be labeled as virtuous, moral or ethical.
Is it because we live in a complicated world that has us making more decisions about the “gray areas”?
We don’t read about organizations being ethical or noble. In fact we hear about unethical companies and employees much more often.
Business magazines doesn’t write front page articles about virtuous executives and CEO’s (I hope this is because it’s not popular and not because there aren’t any).
Are there any reasons to promote and reinforce these values in your organization?
Are there good reasons to avoid discussion of them?
Perhaps the fact that unethical behaviour is reported, and considered scandalous, is a clear signal that it is outside of “normal” business conditions and draws attention.
Let’s begin with definitions, that should clear up some of the confusion.
Moral – Conforming to a standard of what is right and wrong, correct, trustworthy. How could anyone want to work with others who don’t know right from wrong and behave?
Ethical – Principles of conduct governing an individual or group, a set of moral values, a guiding philosophy, decent, respectable. OK, this one sounds like it should be part of the package too.
Noble – Moral eminence and freedom from anything mean, petty or dubious in conduct and character. In simple terms doing the “right thing” all the time, excellence. If it looks bad, don’t do it…pretty good advice and words to live by.
Virtuous – Implies moral excellence in character. Not only knows good from bad, and adheres to it, but is exemplary in their behaviour and practice of their beliefs, honest, good, without reproach. I can’t find any customer, shareholder or employee who wouldn’t want their company to be virtuous.
Which of the terms can your company live without in their employees?
Are any of these characteristics that should be found and promoted in your management and leadership?
Which of these concepts and behaviours are important to you, your customers and your organization now and in the future?
Do you have a written policy in place to promote, identify, and create noble employees and a virtuous organization?
Do you point out and recognize when a person or organization has done something noble, virtuous or ethical?