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Guidelines for Making Ethical Decisions Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

Guidelines for Making Ethical Decisions

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


The decisions leaders make are key in defining who they are and where they stand on critical issues. When tasked with making choices, many seek to make ethical ones, establ­ishing themselves as indivi­duals with values and morals. When indivi­duals find themselves in the position to make decisions, they should first consider some of the guidelines associated with ethical decisi­on-­making, and keep these in mind throughout the entire decisi­on-­making process.


To make an ethical decision, the decisi­on-­maker must feel largely autono­mous. If he does not feel free to make the decision himself, but instead feels that he must make a certain choice as a result of outside pressures, he is more likely to make a decision that is unethical. When a decisi­on-­maker does not feel he has autonomy, the choice he will likely make will not be his own, but instead one that he is influenced to select. This could perhaps lead him into unethical territory, as whoever is exerting pressure may have a hidden agenda. The decisi­on-­maker has to recognize this as the situation, then be guided by his integrity, allowing this to supersede any insecu­rities he may have about lack of autonomy.

Consid­eration of Impact

When making decisions, the decisi­on-­maker must first consider the impact that her decision will have upon others. By consid­ering the lasting impact of her decision, she can improve her chances of making an ethical decision in which all affected indivi­duals' needs are met to the greatest extent possible.


Often laws and regula­tions must play a part in the decisi­on-­making process. If an individual is making a decision with legal ramifi­cat­ions, he must first ensure that he unders­tands the laws and other rules that should necess­arily impact his choices, so that the choice he makes is in line with these laws.


Some decisions have the ability to cause harm. If an individual is making a decision that could prove harmful to others, she must reconsider and choose the option that is least damaging to others.


If the decisi­on-­maker has made a commitment in the past, he must remain faithful to it. If he makes a decision that is contrary to this commit­ment, this will be likely be perceived as unethical, as he would have essent­ially gone back on his promise. For example, if he agreed to stick with one supplier for a set period of time, then switches to another before the stated time period has elapsed, the ethics of his decision may be called into question.


Decisi­on-­makers should put effort into not allowing bias to influence their decisions. If, for instance, an individual allows her feelings for a particular person or group of people to influence her decisions, her decision may not be an ethical one.

Input Receiving

Generally, ethics dictates that decisi­on-­makers should take the wants and needs of others into consid­eration when making decisions. For optimal ethical decisi­on-­making, decisi­on-­makers should give others a voice and consider the concerns or needs expressed before arriving at an ultimate decision.