A Matter of Principle: How to Be a Truly Trusted Strategic Ethics Adviser

September 5, 2017

When the subject is ethics, I’m always drawn to a simple statement made by historian Will Durant, who spent several decades writing an amazing series of books with his wife Ariel Durant called “The Story of Philosophy.”

His definition of ethics is “the search for perfect behavior.” Some translations say “the search for ideal behavior.” You get the idea.
One of the most frequent questions asked of me, and I think of most senior practitioners, is, “I work for a person I respect. They are honorable and practical, but there are some things I believe in my bones that they should be doing but refuse to. How do you get these people to take the actions you are suggesting?”

My response is to offer them my 10-day rule: If bosses won’t take a suggestion from me and act on it within 10 days, the likelihood of them acting on it at any time in the future is very small. So, rather than be a pest, I drop it and move on to something else.

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