Recently, a gentleman who worked for me passed away. I always called him my Jiminy Cricket. If you don’t know who Jiminy Cricket is, you need to watch Pinocchio – one of the Disney greats from my childhood. This person didn’t say a lot, but when he did, the words and meaning were purposeful. I’m sure all of us know a person like that.
On one occasion, he shared a business ethical issue that required raising beyond his level. He anticipated I would brush it away like others had done. I did not. I took heat for it, but I followed my moral and ethical commitment and elevated the issue as appropriate. From that day forward, he called me his “fearless leader.” Did I do it to make him say that? Heck no. Was it difficult? Yes. Why did I risk my career? I did it because what he raised, and the data he had to support his concern, deserved to be raised and investigated.
What would you do in that situation?What drives your response – values, position, promotion or something else entirely?
I read Bruce Weinstein’s Forbes article, where Weinstein’s study found many try to differentiate between ethics and morals.
In the study, 76% stated there is a difference between ethics and morals; however, no consistent definitional difference could be determined.
So, what makes us want to argue the difference in definition rather than look at the substance? My guess is because standing up for what is “right” or identifying what is “wrong” is difficult. We want to succeed in the leadership development “political savvy” competency and in our professional career. Is there a way to practice political savvy and remain true to our ethics and morals?
We all must practice political savvy in our day-to-day work. It is important to ethically use office politics to your advantage. Team members do not need to suffer or be harmed to effectively use this competency.
Being politically savvy does not mean that you want someone else to lose in order for you to win. It isn’t about being false and inauthentic. Instead, it involves the sincere use of your skills, behaviors and qualities in order to be more effective.
Mastering political savvy does not mean you forget ethics and morals. As we encounter situations, we must understand it is not an either/or. It is finding a way to be true and authentic to influence up. And, if something isn’t ethical or moral, we still need to find our compass and do what we need to do to follow our Jiminy Cricket – “Always let your conscience be your guide.”
**In honor of Henry Jung**
Interested in becoming a Featured Contributor? Email topics you’re interested in covering for GovLoop to [email protected] And to read more from our Winter 2021 Cohort, here is a full list of every Featured Contributor during this cohort.
Rebecca (Becky) Mack Johnson’s government career spans almost 34 years. She’s been an SES executive for over 15 years. Her leadership experiences range from business operations’ positions to the human capital side of the house. Becky’s passion centers around helping people grow and achieve their goals. Becky considers receiving the Treasury Department’s Leadership Legacy Award in 2017 as one of her greatest accomplishments. Becky believes continual learning is essential. To practice what she preaches, Becky completed her Masters Degree in Strategic Public Relations in her early 40s. She is also an International Coaching Federation ACC certified coach and a Project Management Professional.