So many decisions we make in business and in life deal with murky situations. Sometimes there is just no clear right or wrong way to respond in the moment. Yet respond we must:
- A long-time and valued employee walks in and presents his resignation. How should you treat him?
- A team member makes a serious mistake that hurts the team. What should you say?
- An employee experiences a family tragedy. What should you do? What should the company do?
Of course, it is not that there isn’t a right answer, it just isn’t always clear in the instant the situation arrives. As time passes, the wisdom of the good choice becomes clear, as does the error of the wrong choice. The employee who resigns but is treated with respect may later become an important part of your professional network. The team member who makes the mistake, but is treated with a little grace and some coaching, may become a strong performer. That employee with the family tragedy needs all the support you have to offer.
For ethical, people-centered, growth-oriented leadership, the correct path is often made clear by the Golden Rule: how would I want to be treated in this situation? It might cost time or money, it might make you vulnerable, it might be difficult in any number of ways, but you want to treat your people according to a strong moral compass, guided by your own sense of the respect, grace, and consideration you expect for yourself.
Dave Ramsey, in his excellent book, Entreleadership, describes how from the very beginning he used the Golden Rule as a moral compass for decision making. See this link for more from Dave: http://www.daveramsey.com/article/golden-rule-business/lifeandmoney_business/