The rabbi who helped his congregants escape the hostage standoff in Texas a few days ago credited the security training he received for keeping everyone alive.
When we practice something in advance, we can think more clearly when facing the real situation. We can also act more quickly. This is why military personnel, firefighters, and other first responders use most of their spare time to practice over and over again.
In corporate ethics, we can do the same thing. We can practice, in advance, how to respond to ethical dilemmas. Perhaps the best training in this area comes from Mary Gentile with her book Giving Voice to Values. Gentile starts with the assumption that most of us know the difference between right and wrong. What we need, she says, is to practice, in advance, how we would respond if we were asked to lie, cheat or steal – or if we observed someone else doing these things. If properly trained, we are more likely to respond in a way that will keep us and the company safe when the real thing happens.
Don’t wait to be “held hostage” by an unethical situation at work before you learn how to escape it.