(This blog was previously published by Trust Across America – Trust Around the World as a part of their 100 Days of Organizational Trust program.)
Many folks are reluctant to trust their own judgment. They may feel they should not speak up when some alarm bell is going off in their head for a variety of reasons:
- “It’s not my job to speak up.”
- “I’m not in a position of leadership or authority.”
- “I’m not smart enough on this topic.”
- “I don’t have the experience needed to speak up.”
All these blocks are normal, but we need to learn to trust our own judgment and speak up when it is essential to do so.
Some issues are business related, like pricing or strategy. Indeed, one may need more experience on these subjects before venturing to speak up.
Other issues are values or ethics related, like being honest with a customer, or fudging the numbers in a report at the request of your boss. Here we each must have the courage to speak up, and it helps to have a strong ethical foundation.
Ways to Build Your Ethical Foundation
Here are four ways to build your ethical foundation:
- Write down your personal values. They are your moral compass. (Complete our Personal Values Exercise.)
- Have a small group of trusted advisors with whom you can share ethical dilemmas in confidence and gain their counsel. Under emotional stress, we can easily rationalize our behavior and begin to make ethical mistakes.
- Have some sanctuary place where you can reflect in solitude. Your inner voice gets shut down in our frenzied world, so find a place to meditate, hike, bike, or just relax where you can use your inner observer.
- Recognize it takes courage to speak up, even as a voice of one. Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the willingness to proceed in the face of fear.
Personal Values Exercise
Complete this exercise to identify your personal values. It will help you develop self-awareness, including clarity about what’s most important to you in life and work, and serve as a safe harbor for you to return to when things are tough.
Trust your own judgment on ethical issues. You’ll sleep with a clean conscience.
Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek are leadership practitioners, teachers, trainers, and award-winning authors. They are co-authors of Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations, a winner of the International Book Awards. Check out their Leadership Derailers Assessment, complete their Personal Values Exercise, or join their community and sign up for their newsletter. If you found value in this, please forward it to a friend. Every little bit helps!