From the Desk of:
Dr. Stephen Hobbs
Ethics are at the forefront of all relationships involving mentors and mentees. Through mentoring interactions, ethical decision-making guides their shared behavior.
As a mentor, how you obtain, serve, and retain mentees involves ethics. The mentees’ willingness to work with you is guided by your ethical decision-making regarding the mentoring experience.
When and wherever your mentoring engagement occurs, ethical decision-making is at the core of your mentoring approach.
Upon reflection, how has ethical decision-making served your mentoring arrangement and relationship?
Quote: In today’s workplace where harsh judgment is passed in the court of social media, it’s smart you upgrade your moral compass to an ethical gyrocompass.
Ethics are about what ‘we’ collectively value in our relationships with one another. The ethics ‘we’ identify take into consideration the best of what it means to be human together. Therefore, you can say, “I am a moral person and I act ethically with others.”
Ethics are a guide ‘we’ agree upon for how I will behave with you and how you will behave with me. Morals are what we believe personally, guide our action toward ethics and exist up to our skin - our compass. What we value with others through our action, from our skin out, are ethics - shared gyrocompass.
The seven ethics are:
- Accountability for - Responsibility to
- Caring - Kindness (awareness of careful and careless)
- Community - Citizenship - Civility
- Fairness - Justice - Integrity
- Respect - Courtesy - Consideration
- Trustworthiness - Honesty
- Hospitality - Helpfulness - Accommodation
The first six are covered in considerable depth by the Josephson Institute. As to #7, I’ve added this one because of the shortcomings in welcoming those that have not arrived yet.
Ethics guide consideration of personal/collective inspiration and enthusiasm on ideas of right and wrong. About actions that are legal and helpful or actions that are illegal and harmful.
Ethics guide the interpretation of a situation from the perspectives of ethical dilemmas like those identified next.
An ethical dilemma is a situation in which making a decision involves the choice between two or more ethical courses of action. From a mentor perspective:
1. Between right and wrong. E.g., The mentee has not paid the invoice for two months or the mentee has been arriving late and leaving early
2. Between two rights. E.g., Deciding between two new clients – who to add first – that is, to decide between two qualified mentees for the one spot open
3. Between two unacceptable alternatives. E.g., two new mentees, one from a cigarette company and another from a weapons production factory
4. Conflict of Interest. E.g., A new mentee has been saying disparaging things about a person you support
5. Hospitality re: welcoming those who are about to arrive and how to assist their engagement. E.g., Onboarding new mentees from different national cultures
Ethical Decision Making
Within your mentoring arrangements, think about the five ethical dilemmas. Describe a situation for one or more of the dilemmas. What learning emerged for each situation?
- What is the situation about in the words of those involved?
- Which one of these seven ethical values is affected by the dilemma – accountability, caring, community, fairness, respect, trustworthiness, and/or hospitality?
- What options are available to deal with the dilemma in light of the core ethical value identified in #2?
- What priority option seems viable?
- What outcome is likely upon taking the priority action(s)?
In framing your answers to these questions – and before you act upon your decision – can you describe and explain the dilemma, the affected ethical value, and your decision pathway to the desired outcome to a twelve-year-old?
More importantly, would the twelve-year-old understand and agree to your proposed action?
If yes – you would seem to be on track.
If no, go back and ask the questions again.
Because without reflection and course correction, the following situations can occur.
- Compromise ethical decision making, authenticity and alignment disperse.
- Compromise ethical decision-making, mentees move on with a bitter taste of their mentoring experience.
Ethical Decision Making and Your Mentoring Arrangement
Consider the following insights about improving, focusing, and strengthening ethical decision-making in your organization of mentoring.
A]] As you establish and sustain the mentoring arrangement and relationship between you and the mentee,
- Do your collaborative conversations support working together?
- Do your allocations of time, effort, and money align with the ethical support of your mentee?
B]] A mentoring arrangement allows full expression of what is best in people as they articulate clear action outcomes, receive immediate feedforward, and accept stretch challenges. Have these expressions been your experience? If yes, write a thank you note to those who got you to yes.
C]] Both the mentor and the mentee are looking for natural alignment. Has this insight been the case for you as a mentor and/or mentee? What learning can you draw from your reflection?
D]] From a workplace perspective, mentoring in and for the workplace involves working according to statements of business practices that link the organization with its mentoring program. Has this been the case for you? If not, what can you do in your workplace today to deal with this situation?
E]] The inspired standards and wise practices exemplified by the mentoring program, and demonstrated in the mentoring arrangements and relationships serve as an ethical reminder to the mentor and mentees, to be accountable, caring, collaborative, fair/just, respecting, trusting, and hospitable with one another. How is it going so far?
F]] An essential outcome of a mentoring experience evolves the mentee and the mentor along the continuum of good to extraordinary. Have you experienced this continuum? To what extent and why?
At its core - if you so decide - mentoring is your legacy gift to others. As your mentees tap into your lived experience through the questions they ask, you both have the opportunity to experience legacy.
Mentoring as Legacy creates doorways of thanks to higher levels of wisdom for the mentor and mentee to improve, focus, and strengthen the Gift of Mentoring.
(Thanks to Doug Lawrence, mentor extraordinaire!)
An Ethical Decision Making Course and eBook are in production from the WELLth Movement in support of the International Mentoring Community Library and the IMC Learning Agora.
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