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6 Steps for Making Ethical Decisions

  • Establish the facts in a situation
    1. Establish exactly what has happened (or is happening) and who is involved in the situation before trying to figure out what to do about it. Ask yourself the following questions:

– What has happened or what is happening?

– When and where did certain events occur?

– Who is (or might be) involved in or concerned by the situation?

– What do the parties involved have to say about the situation?

  • Decide whether the situation involves legal or ethical issues
    1. The next step consists of determining whether the situation has legal implications. The following questions can be useful in determining that: Has anyone been harmed by the action or decision of another, and if so, in what way? Does the action or the situation contravene an existing law? Was there a breach of contract? Were the actions of the athlete discriminatory or constituted harassment?
  • Identify your options and possible consequences
    1. Ask yourself: What could I do in this situation? Think about a variety of options. The first one to consider should be not making any decision or taking no action. This would be the least demanding option, and it could be thought of as representing one end of a continuum of possibilities. As a second step, consider the other extreme of the continuum, and think of the most comprehensive or liberal action you might take in the situation. Then, identify several intermediate options. Do not rule out any option at this stage, even though at the outset it may appear an unlikely choice.
  • Evaluate your options
    1. Assess the pros and cons of each of your options outlined in step 3. This is critical in reaching a decision. The notions of outcome sought (i.e. striving to do what is good for individuals or the team) and means used (striving to do things right) are central to ethical thinking. A coach’s decision should reflect a fair balance between outcomes sought and the means used to achieve them.
  • Choose the Best Option
    1. Making an ethical decision requires a final reflection on what is the best decision under the circumstances, a just and reasonable decision that will apply where an ethical dilemma is involved. An ethical decision is “the right thing to do” with regard to the duties and responsibilities of the person making the decision, is made “the right way”, and is consistent with the values and behaviours outlined in the NCCP Code of Ethics
  • Implement your decision
    1. Putting your decision or plan of action into effect requires that you consider a number of things, particularly if it involves dealing with individuals or groups of people. Consider the following as you establish an action plan:

Choose your path. Exactly what are you going to do? Plan carefully the steps you are going to take.

Think about what may happen. Consider the likely outcomes of the decision and the how any consequences will be managed.

Identify who needs to know. Consider who needs to be informed of or involved in implementing the action plan or decision.

Determine if you can deal on your own with the person(s) involved. In issues not involving a contravention of the law, it is often best to try to deal with the issue informally and directly with the individual involved.

Warn, don’t threaten. This is an important concept when dealing with a situation at an informal level. It entails informing the individual of the logical consequences of what can happen if a situation is not resolved, rather than threatening the person with an end run.

Think about what you might do next if the chosen plan of action doesn’t work. If your original decision or plan of action is ineffective, think carefully about what to do next. Inform the individual that you now have to follow up with Plan B.


8 Ways to Manage Office Politics

  • Play Nice

Courtesy, respect, politeness and office etiquette start and end with you. Show your coworkers kindness, and encourage them to do the same.

  • Fight Fair

Sometimes the game of office politics can get downright nasty, and there’s nothing you can do but get in the ring. But before the fur starts to fly, focus on the issue, not the person. Address behaviors, never the individual. Handle confrontations privately, fairly and without judgment.

  • Keep Your Cool

Nothing that happens at the office is worth a heart attack. In the big scheme of things, will the issue matter in a week? A month? A year? As you keep things in perspective, you will also be less prone to turning incidents into catastrophes. Strive for equanimity at all times.

  • Forgive and Forget

If you’ve been maligned, candidly address the issue at the source. Then shake hands and move on. Bearing grudges or, worse, returning fire will serve only to damage your own reputation.

  • Don’t Play Favorites

Motivational speaker Earl Nightingale once said, “Treat everyone as though they are the most important person in the world, because to them they are.” Great advice. Remember, no one is better than anyone else.

  • Keep It Zipped

While office gossip and chatter can be titillating, it can also be cruel. Think of gossip as spam or junk mail and hit the “delete” button. When people approach you with juicy details about Mr. or Ms. So-and-So, politely put a stop to the conversation and exit. When gossipmongers realize that no one is listening, they’ll quiet down and get back to work.

  • Hire Intelligently

If you’re in a hiring capacity, screen potential new hires carefully. Ask candidates how they feel about workplace politics and how they might react in difficult situations.

  • Acquiesce

Accept the fact that office politics happen in every workplace. If you spend all of your time worrying about water-cooler chatter, you’ll never have time to manage your own projects. Some degree of complacency will keep you sane.


Values and culture in ethical decision making – Discussing the importance of making ethical decisions and how it aligns with one’s values and cultural

Valparaiso University Journal of Value-Based Leadership

Values of Organizational Ethics Training: A Two-Fold Benefit


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