BLIND SPOTS – ETHICAL DILEMMAS – PART ONE
By Zsolt Szalai - March 27., 2023.
Perhaps one of the most difficult and challenging areas of leadership in everyday life is ethical decision - making. The root of the difficulty lies in the fact that, while we can formulate value systems to be followed on a theoretical level, in practice we do not always recognize that we are facing a decision that pushes the boundaries of our accepted ethical principles. One of the basic thesis of Max H. Bazerman and Ann E. Tenbrunell's book Blind Spots suggests this: Organizational ethical solutions and attempts start from a fundamentally wrong assumption: people recognize an ethical dilemma when confronted with it. If the assumption is wrong, then only faulty practice can be built on it.
The authors name five distortions in the book that can lead to unethical decisions and actions: poorly formulated goals, motivated blindness, indirect blindness, slippery slope, and valuing outcomes over processes. In this article, poorly formulated goals and motivated blindness are explained, while the other three topics are discussed in the next article.
Most organizations, whatever their activities, organize their operations around well-defined objectives. The stated goals help to organize work, properly allocate resources and decide on the importance of a particular question or problem. However, it may be the case that a goal that seems good, pushes the organizational and the individual or group decisions of the people in the wrong direction, and unethical actions and decisions are made. For example, when customer service goals are mixed with revenue growth expectations, employees might be tempted to use unethical tools resulting is cheating customers.