business ethics competitive advantageBusiness Ethics as a Source of Competitive Advantage

Strong business ethics is vital to ensure a successful long-term career. One single thing that you can do that will make you stand out in life and in business is to cultivate very strong fundamental values and make it define who you are.

In practice, strong business ethics is not a common trait in employees, as you may have noticed yourself. If strong business ethics was common we would not need so many laws and enforcement agencies. We could simply expect employees to do what is right. A reputation for strong business ethics, however, gives you a sustainable competitive advantage. In business, strong fundamental values could include many things but the underlying value is integrity at all times. Integrity must guide all dealings with internal and external stakeholders.

More important than integrity is the image of having integrity. It is a halo that can protect you from accusations. It takes years to develop this halo but it can be lost in one act, lasting just one second.

To cultivate strong business ethics, one needs to acquire or strengthen several business values that are vital for anyone who would like to succeed as a professional and as a leader.

What is business ethics

Business ethics refers to actions, practices, etc. as it relates to arguably controversial subjects. A business organization is an organization that provides goods and services, usually with a goal of making a profit. The business provides goods and services to other entities. Business ethics can then be understood as the study of the ethical dimensions of organizations and activities involved in providing goods and services. It studies ethical principles and ethical or moral problems that can arise in a business. To simplify business ethics; it is the study of how a business should conduct itself when facing controversial situations and ethical dilemmas.

business ethics success

Guide to business ethics

Be ethical regardless of the consequences in dealing with stakeholders of an organization.

Do what is best for the company. Sometimes it can mean doing what is best for the client, if you work on projects for specific clients, such as in management consulting. Doing what is best for the company sometimes means forgoing immediate profits for the company, and even upsetting your co-workers.

  • Take pride in your work at all times.
  • Do your best work at all times.
  • Do not say anything negative about someone behind that person’s back. If you have issues with someone, approach them directly.
  • Do not gossip or spread rumors. Rumors have many untruths to them and you do not want to damage anyone’s reputation.
  • Be professional at all times.
  • If you promise something – deliver it as promised. But when needed, use opportunities to renegotiate the deadline.
  • Do as you advise others to do.
  • Respect your time and that of others.
  • Promote justice. Give people credit for their work and never accept credit for work done by somebody else.
  • Stand up for what you believe in. If you see wrongdoing, especially the kind that can be damaging to a company’s reputation or performance, do whatever you can to change it and refuse to be a part of it.
  • And last, but most importantly, remember that family and the people you love always come first. This does not mean that one can miss a deadline if there is a birthday coming up. In such situations, you will have to negotiate with both parties and use your best judgment. What it does mean is that, in all your decisions, you need to keep your family’s interests as the highest priority. For instance, you cannot neglect your husband, wife, or children for a few years while you are building your career. This will cause irreparable damage to your life. You have to incorporate their interests now into your schedule.

Business Ethics vs. Personal Commitments

Take care of yourself. Always remember that if you work yourself to the point that you will get ill, regardless of your outstanding performance, you will be replaced. Your employer and management may feel very sad that you are leaving, and may even have to hire two people to do your job, but they will replace you and in time forget about you.

Therefore, always remember to put your health and your family first. Those are the real assets of your life, not your title and the corner office. If you cannot reconcile the needs of your family with those of your career, then you need to think long and hard, and possibly walk away from your career and find something more suitable.

Do not go against your values to accommodate behavior which is not ethical.

Final thoughts

The above points on business ethics were probably just a reminder, as they are intuitive. And they are not meant to be comprehensive. As you go forward, you can incorporate other guidelines that you feel are important. However, it is important to make sure that your values are not negotiable. That is why we call them values. As people often say, “If you don’t have values – you don’t have anything.” Values and moral principles only count when they are tested. Everyone has them unless they are put to the test. Then only a few truly have them.

Strong values, the reputation of a person with strong business ethics, will always make you stand out and are vital for your long-term success and happiness in all areas of your life.

Related articles we recommend:

The Key to a Sustainable Competitive Advantage in Your Career

Ethics is Shaped by Your Social Network

Ethical Standards are No Small Matter for McKinsey

Ethical vs Criminal: Recording a telephone interview

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Recommended books:

business ethics succeeding as a management consultantSucceeding as a Management Consultant

When people think about the business strategy we often think about the field of strategy consulting/management consulting and firms like McKinsey, BCG, et al. If you are interested in learning how to conduct a management consulting engagement, you will likely enjoy this book. Succeeding as a Management Consultant is a book set in the Brazilian interior. This book follows an engagement team as they assist Goldy, a large Brazilian gold miner, in diagnosing and fixing deep and persistent organizational issues. This book follows an engagement team over an 8-week assignment and explains how they successfully navigate a challenging client environment, develop hypotheses, build the analyses, and provide the final recommendations. It is written so the reader may understand, follow, and replicate the process. It is the only book laying out a consulting assignment step-by-step. (Published by FIRMSconsulting.) One of the best business books if you are interested in management consulting and strategy. This book will be very useful as well if you are a small business consultant. If you were searching for answers to questions about consulting, this book is a gold mine, according to many readers.

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Bill Matassoni’s (Ex-McKinsey and Ex-BCG Senior Partner) Marketing Saves The World is a truly unique book. Never before has a McKinsey partner published his memoir publicly. This book is a rare opportunity – a true exclusive – to see what shapes the thought process of a partner and learn about marketing and strategy. The memoir essentially lays out McKinsey’s competitive advantage and explains how it can be neutralized. (Published by FIRMSconsulting.) One of the best business books if you are interested in marketing, strategy, how McKinsey and BCG operate, and overall in management consulting. 

business ethics Turquoise eyesTurquoise Eyes: A Novel about Problem Solving & Critical Thinking

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Cheers, Kris

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