My Thoughts by Rick Stephens

Small Business Ethics

Posted in Ethics,Leadership by Rick on the March 4th, 2007

Executive in CourtEthics in business has become big news over the past several years. We read about the escapades of the executives at Enron, WorldCom and other major companies and shake our heads in astonishment thinking, “How could that happen.” We marvel at the unethical behavior of these leaders while at the same time never considering our own behavior.

The truth is that business leaders, regardless of the size of the company, are faced with ethical pressures everyday. The scale or impact of the ethical decision may not measure up to the likes of an Enron, but nevertheless, they do exist. How a business leader handles minor ethical issues is a precursor to how larger decision will be made as the business grows.

Many of the ethical issues we may face are not clearly black or white. In fact, two people faced with the same issue could quite possible make contrary decisions, while believing they each have made the best ethical decision. Why? Because ethical decisions are based upon one’s moral character. When it comes to moral behavior, we each march to the sound of different drummers and as such will make different decisions on similar issues.

As a business owner you must set the bar on ethical behavior. Make integrity a core value, be honest with your customers and employees, always follow the rules, never compromise your principles, and remember that the right thing is not always the opposite of the wrong thing. Do these things and your customers will respect you and your employees will remain loyal, essential ingredients to a successful business.

To Your Success,

Rick's Signature

3 Responses to 'Small Business Ethics'

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  1. Karl R. Zimmer III said, on March 5th, 2007 at 6:53 pm


    Well put! One additional component to consider vis a vis ethical behavior is culture. There are behaviors in some cultures that are ethical while those same behaviors in other cultures are not.

    I do believe that you are addressing the generally accepted practices of right and wrong and simple human consideration – “…do unto others,” if you will. Those do seem more universal.

    I am glad there are people like you out there, helping to give business owners a bit of direction and some friendly reminders. We all can use some help, sometimes.


  2. Rick said, on March 5th, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    Thanks Karl – I appreciate your remarks and agree that there is a cultural component involved at times. Somehow, though, we need to find away to all work from an even playing field. That would make a good blog!!

    To Your Success –

  3. Joe White said, on March 6th, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    You see it always comes down to the people. My father gave me probably the best reason I have ever heard for honest behaviour (excuse my Canadian spelling of that word) He said if you always tell the truth you never have to remember what you said when challenged. As I get older I know just how right he is.
    Nice Job.

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