I can’t resist.

Every time I’m in the fitness club I have to look. No, not at those people who do hundred push-ups at the same crazy pace that I can eat chocolate. No, it is something different.

My fitness club has a book-exchange area. As I book nut I can’t resist having a look. It’s not that I don’t have any books at home but you never know maybe this time I might find a treasure. A book I haven’t heard off; a book that I would like to read; a book that is totally up to my alley.

Yesterday it was my lucky day. I did find a book that fits those three categories. It was written many years ago – at a time when you could buy a new book for $4.95. But don’t let the publication date of 1988 put you off. Tom Peters – the well-known leadership guru – recommended it as an inspirational and practical book. That is a big compliment for the authors – Norman Vincent Peale (the author of The Power of Positive Thinking) and Kenneth Blanchard (yes, the same Blanchard who wrote The One Minute Manager). Not many books on ethics are both inspirational and practical.

One of the topics that the authors write about is an ethic check: three simple questions that are worth answering if you’re facing a leadership dilemma. One question I like particularly. That question is:

                        “How will this decision or action make me feel about myself?”

This question taps into your own values. Questions that fit in this same category are:

* How would I feel if my decision would be published in tomorrow’s newspaper?

Or

* How would I feel if a family member (like your child or mother) asks me questions about this?

The moment feelings like shame, anxiety, or letting down come up, please look again at your decision or action.

Every leader needs to make difficult decisions. Some of these decisions are hard to explain to others, especially around letting go of employees, because the amount of information that you can communicate is so limited. But you know. If your decision has been an ethical one, you hold to it, no matter what.

Unethical decisions seem sometimes to be the solution for a short-term challenge but in the long run those decisions can damage your career, the culture of the organization, and the realization of your vision.