A strong sense of ethics and values is necessary for leaders, especially when they may be the only ones courageous enough to call out unethical behavior or other questionable practices in a company, write Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek. “To be prepared to be a voice of one, you must set your moral compass by defining and living by your personal values,” they write.




You Will Be Tested

No matter what field you work in, you will be tested with ethical challenges or dilemmas. You’ll see something disturbing. Or you’ll be asked or pressured to do something you sense is wrong. Do you speak up and refuse or go along?

Bob had that happen early in his career. He was a new General Manager of a division of a large public company. One of their large distributors called to ask Bob to send their annual rebate of 5 percent of their purchases to a certain organization. Bob took the info and asked his boss about the request.

His boss said this was an annual request, and it’s okay. Bob suspected this was a private kickback to the owners that went into their pockets. What should Bob have done? (Back to that in a minute.)


Examples of Times When a Voice of One Is Needed

All aspects of life come with ethical challenges and dilemmas. Workplaces are no exception. For example, what do you do if you witness the following actions (or plans for them)?


  • Assault or bullying
  • Breaking or bending the rules
  • Bribery or blackmail
  • Cheating
  • Covering up for violations
  • Discrimination and/or favoritism
  • Gossip and rumor-spreading
  • Harassment
  • Improper disclosure of confidential information
  • Intellectual property infringement or theft
  • Looking the other way while violations are happening
  • Lying
  • Manipulating people
  • Retaliation
    Sabotage of a person, team, or organization
  • Stealing
  • Taking credit for others’ ideas or work