Making a tough decision? Look to your integrity.
It's all very well to say that, but, realistically - why? After all, values-based decisions can cause complications. They can stand in the way of short-term opportunities. They might even make you seem like an oddity. They can be tough choices to make and the rewards are often well hidden.
So ultimately aren't we better leaving ethics out of it and just making pragmatic decisions?
No. And here's an armful of reasons why.
Because a choice made with reference to your value set is truthful and honest. (Remember that old Mark Twain saying: "If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything" - true! It's so much simpler.)
Because it provides clarity. To you, and to the recipients of your decision.
Because however much you wish you had made the other decision, you avoid the negative impact on your conscience that haunts you in the wee small hours.
Because you can stand up to rigorous questioning and investigation. And that includes your own inner voice, as well as other people's.
Because it gives you the courage of your convictions if you face opposition or challenge.
Because whatever the fluctuations of opinion in the world you can trust your decisions as long as they're based on your values. You can stand firm as the world around you spins.
Because a decision based on your value set will be unique and ownable. What you consider to be right may not chime with someone else and that’s fine. If that decision is about business direction or brand communications the level of stand-out it provides has genuine commercial value.
Because if you’re ahead of the trend you will benefit once it joins you. You'll be tuned in, turned on and ready to meet the market's needs.
Because reaching into your own values filters out unsuitable people and opportunities. It allows you to recruit and develop team members who meet your ethos. It supports you in the pursuit of audiences, projects and markets that chime with your value set. It spares you a lot of time spent learning what does and doesn't work for you.
Because it gives you a clear set of parameters for decisions. And whilst the decisions themselves might be hard, those parameters make the process itself surprisingly easy.
Because it helps you filter out what isn’t imperative to you. Yes, sometimes having a very clear idea of your core values gives you the freedom to make choices that can appear contentious, without discomfort.
Because if you are absolutely clear on the ethos at your heart or that of your organisation, you don’t have to be intransigent in your position, but can be flexible and trust your instinct to guide you.
Because people you respect will respect you for it.
And that includes you, because it gives you pride in your integrity.
Because you can look your kids in the eye.
Because a healthy conscience helps to make the rest of you healthy too.
Because how would you feel if you did the other?
Yes - making decisions based on the values you hold dear might force you to reject short term rewards, but it gives you pride and longer-term rewards.
That means do it. Don’t just say it.
PS. It also smokes out the wrong values. If the values you articulate are not values for which you are prepared to make sacrifices, they're probably not really your values at all. If that's so, dig deeper, question yourself harder, and try again.