Friday, March 27, 2015

Do You Have the Courage to Choose the Difficult Right?

"Leaders must both model courage and call forth courage from others." - Leadership Promises by John Maxwell
Choosing the difficult right over the easy wrong takes a lot of courage. However, research shows that "situational pressure leads to ethical fading." Good leaders must have the moral courage to do the right thing in challenging situations.

Here are a few excerpts from Leading in the Wildland Fire Service:

Fire leaders work to keep fear from being a barrier by understanding those fears that affect their team. Fear can destroy communication and, with it, trust and cohesion. In looking out for our people, we are mindful of their fears and vigilant in eliminating unnecessary fears. (Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, p. 48)
"Your life expands in proportion to your courage. Fear limits a leader." - John C. Maxwell
Moral Courage
Wildland fire leaders demonstrate moral courage by adhering to high ethical standards and  choosing the difficult right over the easy wrong. We avoid ethical dilemmas by direct team members to operate in ways that are consistent with our professional standards and by directing them only to actions they can achieve ethically.

When we make mistakes, we handle them in honorable and effective ways, fixing the immediate problem then searching for root causes. Leaders with moral courage look for causes, not scapegoats, learning and improving, looking for ways to turn weaknesses into strengths.

An outgrowth of strong character, moral courage enables us to build trust with our teams and gain respect from peers. Although some may judge that leading ethically compromises short-term gains, leading ethically allows us to accomplish more than our mission.

Because the consequences of ethical decisions can be great and those who make such decisions may be asked later to justify their conclusion, following a careful and thorough process is a wise approach in situations with ambiguous courses of action. The values of duty, respect, and integrity should weigh heavily in any ethical decision. (Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, pp. 63-64)

Beware: "Situational pressure leads to ethical fading."

Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge - Digging a Little Deeper

  • Watch Brooke Deterline's TEDx video on creating ethical cultures in business. Commit to  retraining your brain through practice. 
    • Become a pattern interrupter.
    • Identify individual, team, and organizational patterns.
    • Create your MAGIC PAUSE BUTTON.
    • Develop your innate capacity for courage.

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