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Trustworthy? Trusted Advisors Develop a Default Ethical Framework


The great trusted advisors have a default ethical framework. The second E in FINESSE stands for Ethics.
The great trusted advisors have a default ethical framework.

The time to develop a default ethical framework is before the action occurs. Spend some time studying ethics. More importantly, watch the ethical practices of others in your organization. The great trusted advisors have a default ethical framework. Ethical communication is directly aligned with a professional’s ethical framework.

 

Virtue Ethics

Virtue ethics are based on an absolute right and an absolute wrong. Aristotle describes virtue as courage, temperance, patience, truthfulness, wittiness, friendliness, and modesty. Conversely, he frames vice as rashness, licentiousness, vulgarity, vanity, ambition, irascibility, boastfulness, buffoonery, flattery, and envy.

 

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, describes good as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. He characterizes bad as fornication, impurity, idolatry, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, envy, drunkenness, and carousing.

 

Right and wrong is a personal journey that takes years to acquire. That’s time that senior management doesn’t have, either. Going into a boardroom with a "we are right" and “you are wrong" is not how to get things done.

 

Consequentialism

Consequence-based ethics refers to moral theories that hold the consequences of an action serve as the basis for any valid moral judgment. From a consequentialist standpoint, a morally right action produces a good outcome or consequence. In other words, "the ends justify the means."

 

Advocates seeking to persuade or manipulate human opinion usually encourage a consequential approach. If the ends justify the means, then senior management needs to know only the aspects that bring them to the desired position.

 

Advocates usually fall into broad classes like salespeople, attorneys, politicians, and self-enlightened crusaders.

One type of ethics dominates the way we communicate and make decsions.
One type of ethics dominates the way we communicate and make decsions.

Duty-Based Ethics

Duty-based, or deontological ethics, holds that the consequences of actions do not make them right or wrong. Instead, the motives of the person who conducts the action make the actions right or wrong.

 

The obligation to make good decisions is in the process. Information sharing can be honestly managed. Outcomes, governed by an uncertain future, are not the basis of a good or bad decision.

 

Deontological ethics prioritizes full disclosure and "treating others in the manner you wish to be treated." Deontological ethics is in direct contrast to consequential ethics.

 

Licensed physicians are legally bound by duty-based ethics. So are licensed professional engineers.

 

Develop Your Ethical Framework

Ethical behavior is not as "pure" as described in the simplified triangle of ethics. Most individuals and groups predominately follow one form and secondarily to another.

 

"Ethics are the way we make decisions." - JD Solomon.

 

Duty-based is Best for Trusted Advisors

Use a duty-based approach when communicating to senior management on big issues with high levels of complexity and uncertainty. You do not want your subordinates or team members to hide information to persuade you. Why do you think senior management wants you to persuade or manipulate them?

 

Communicating with FINESSE

The time to develop a default ethical framework is before the action occurs. Spend some time studying ethics. More importantly, watch the ethical practices of others in your organization. The great trusted advisors have a default ethical framework. Ethical communication is directly aligned with a professional’s ethical framework. The second E in FINESSE stands for Ethics.


 

Communicating with FINESSE is a not-for-profit community of technical professionals dedicated to being highly effective communicators and facilitators. Learn more about our publications, webinars, and workshops. Join the community for free.


 

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