Make your workplace — and the world — a better place. How? Ethics.
These days, you may sometimes feel that it’s the most cunning game theorists, the loudest and rudest shouters, the most unapologetic backstabbers and the shadiest, least-scrupulous sycophants who win all the goodies in the workplace. They sure seem to get the most attention.
But you know what? Honesty, trustworthiness, respect, discretion, kindness, decency and even humility are as valued in the world of work as they’ve ever been. Perhaps more so.
What’s even more wonderful is that you have the capacity to display those qualities — and inspire others to display them — no matter what rung you currently occupy on the corporate ladder. It’s usually not even that difficult. Very often it costs you little or nothing.
An excellent place to start is by practicing honesty. Perhaps that classic example — filching office supplies — doesn’t seem like a big deal. Perhaps “everyone” does it. But if you choose not to, you set a strong example for personal integrity while at the same time making that small, too-common act a little less common. All for the cost of buying your own pens and stapler refills!
Speaking of costs, one absolutely free way to build an ethical atmosphere at work is to honor confidences. Sure, relaying the juicy bit of workplace gossip you’ve just been told can feel almost irresistible. The result, however, is that you’re letting down your confidant and making the world a less safe, less kind and less trustworthy place at the same time. Hardly seems worth it.
One final idea: A rather subtle way to be an ethical role model is through use of “moral symbols.” For example, posting quotes from great thinkers like Gandhi, Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King or Winston Churchill in your personal work area can serve as sources of inspiration to everyone. You don’t have to say a word. You certainly don’t need to be preachy or sanctimonious or overbearing in any way. Moral symbols serve as mute yet powerful reminders of what’s right and what’s not.
Let’s face it. We have plenty of “anti-role models” in this world. But you absolutely have the power to undo a bit of that in your own corner of the planet. You’ll feel better for it, and our society will be better off, too.