Why You Need A Moral Compass

13 April, 2016

Barby Dalbosco

Suits is my all time favourite television show. It’s complex, sophisticated and funny. The characters draw you in to the high stakes world of corporate litigation, making them highly believable, albeit in highly unbelievable situations.

But more to the point, Suits sizzles with moral dilemma. The entire show is an ethical conundrum, not least of which is that the most noble character practices law without a license. His mentor, full of bravado and ego, takes pride in emotional detachment to every living thing. In a scene where the mentor offers his apprentice advice, the apprentice says, “Sounds like you actually care about me.” “I don’t,” is the acerbic response. “You’re a reflection of me and I absolutely care about me. So get your skinny tie out of my face.”

The mentor plays rough but not dirty. He’s demanding but also ferociously loyal. To an outsider his moral compass may be off course but to him it’s clearly defined.

I like that.

According to a new study, traits of morality are what really define a person. And by extension, our morality defines our personal brand.

If this is true, then what’s your moral code? I don’t mean the rules and regulations based on your culture or religion, or the rules your parents and teachers instilled in you. I’m talking about the custom-made, one-of-a-kind, specially designed moral compass that you lean on when the going gets tough.

Why is this important?

A moral compass gives you the confidence to say difficult things. “If I don’t have time to visit my mother, then I don’t have time to meet with strangers for a ‘let’s explore possible synergies’ coffee meeting.”

A moral compass can make up for shortcomings. Let’s say you need someone’s help. Being genuinely humble and respectful makes it easier to get what you need.

A moral compass can resolve conflict. If a situation is tense, keeping your ego in check and doing what works for everyone allows you to move forward.

A moral compass can protect you. My moral compass says it’s not okay to be rude to me, or disrespectful, or generally treat me badly. Should the need arise, these boundaries give me the confidence to behave in an appropriate way.

A moral compass can help your business flourish. Ethical products, a motivated workforce and honourable decisions go a long way towards turning happy customers into a profitable business.

Finding your moral code is all about balance – the balance between reason and emotion, between your needs and those of others, and between pragmatism and the ‘perfect solution’. But we must understand that our true north might not be the same for everyone else. And it cannot be right to impose our values on them.

So based on your experience, and what effect you anticipate the outcome will have on you and others, all you can do is ask yourself what you should do in any given situation. And then see if it matches your values. And act on that.

Because how you behave when faced with a moral dilemma defines who you are. Your integrity allows you to be the best possible version of yourself and is more important that your popularity, or your bank balance.

Do you carry a moral compass? How does it help you?

Robyn Young - Personal Leadership Branding for Executives

About the Author

Robyn Young

As a personal leadership branding strategist, Robyn Young helps individuals identify and articulate their unique strengths, values and goals, empowering them to build an authentic personal brand that resonates with their stakeholders.

Robyn has a keen eye for aligning personal attributes with professional aspirations, helping her clients project a powerful and compelling image in their chosen field.