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An ethics quiz for business leaders

| by Greg Leith

I remember being a fresh college graduate and on the job in my first manager role. I was traveling on an overnight trip and on my way into breakfast, I bought a newspaper. I had missed reading the one I’d paid for already that was languishing on my doorstep at home, so it seemed quite justified that I would expense the one I bought that morning at Denny’s. 

A week later my expense report was paid, minus 25 cents for my newspaper. Newspapers were clearly notto be expensed in my company! Of course, I thought to myself I could just throw in another dollar to my tip account! Who would notice one dollar in the midst of hundreds?! I had a 25-cent ethical dilemma on my hands.

How about a few bigger ethical dilemmas? What do you do with these issues?

• Should you point out on a reference call for a friend that they were fired from their previous job?


• Should you retaliate against someone by not promoting them if they refuse a corporate move to another city?


• Should you fire an employee who was drunk on the job?


• Should you discipline someone for stealing from the company?


• What do you do with a Christian employee who is taking company time to share their faith but their unit is always off-budget?


• If you are a follower of Christ and biblical teaching and are asked to work on a project that violates your beliefs, should you dive in because you need the job?


• An unmarried co-worker suggests dinner with you while you’re both out of town on business for the company and staying in the same hotel. Should you accept?


What is ethics anyway, a set of rules you create? A set of commands you adhere to because of your faith? It seems clear that you and I can’t simply create the rules as we go along in life. 

If we don’t draw an ethical line, we end up being OK with “cooking the books” to save taxes, using the company credit card to put gas in our cars or even entering a massage parlor while telling our spouses we were at a business dinner. There has to be some kind of plumb line that’s always clear and true no matter what the circumstances.

Christian ethics experts note that ethics must have its underpinnings in the character of an ethical, moral Being. As an example, God exhibits the character trait of justice. That’s why we should be just in our leadership—not simply because of a set of rules we make up.

Kindness, fairness, forgiveness, humility, compassion and love would all follow as godly character traits we should mirror in our leadership. Good ethics is always good business and its roots are in the character of God.

Photo source: istock 

Greg Leith

Greg's life mission statement focuses on his life passion, which is “to strengthen the great leaders, ideas and organizations of our time so the kingdom causes of Christ can be exponentially accelerated.” He is the CEO of Convene, which helps hundreds of Christian CEO’s meet regularly in small groups to live out their faith intentionally as they combine their love for business with the love for biblical truth. Greg’s career spans corporate Fortune 500 enterprises, franchise operations, non-profit and associations and academic sectors.

This article was first published on Used with permission. 

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Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2 (NIV)
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