Every day, leaders have to make decisions. Some of these are basic and require little to no processing. As much as we probably wish those were the only decisions we have to make, we still have to make those gut wrenching decisions that make us face our ethical foundation. These are the decisions that make us second guess if we will make a mistake, ruin a relationship, or break our internal laws and lead us astray from our moral compass. When faced with these decisions, there is a framework from various studies and standard knowledge that can be used to make those ethical decisions.

Step 1: Identify the problem and the potential issues involved. What is the root to the dilemma?

Step 2: What type of situation are you facing? Depending on the approach needed to address this ethical related decision, chances are that there is a certain perspective to have. These questions help individuals reflect and relate to the various approaches for making ethical decisions, which include Utilitarian, Rights, Justice/Fairness, Common Good, and Virtue.

Step 3: Apply relevant laws and regulations. There are a lot of complexity to policies and standards in today’s workforce. Does this decision violate any policies within our company? The government? Consult with your company’s lawyer or human resources department to learn more. 

Step 4: Obtain consultation by recognizing who the relevant parties are.

Step 5: List the consequences of the probable courses of action. Too often, leaders do not think about the impact their decision is going to have on the lives of others. It is important to think about all stakeholders, including employees, families, friends, customers, partners, and vendors.

Step 6: Decide on what appears to be the best course of action.