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Listen to Your Inner Voice

If you're in management long enough, you're bound to face a decision that will challenge your principles. There will always be gray areas that need to be navigated, where something might or might not be right. But inside all of us is something that tells us whether an action we're considering is or isn't right.

by F. John Reh
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I believe most people are good and honest. I believe that most managers act in ways that are beneficial for their employers and their employees. I do not believe that most of us are driven to take from others regardless of the cost. Certainly we have seen enough proof recently that there are unscrupulous people running businesses, but most managers are honest, scrupulous people.

Having scruples, or being scrupulous, means sometimes having doubts about doing something because it might not be right, because it might go against your principles. We all have an inner voice telling us when something we are considering isn't right. We might not always listen to it, but it is always there. As a manager, one of the best things you can do is to listen to your inner voice. If something isn't right, if your scruples kick in, if your inner voice tells you not to do it - listen. There is a reason for it.

Do you want your fifteen minutes of fame because of something you did well or are you willing to settle for fifteen minutes of infamy for having lied, cheated, or stolen?

The Voice Inside You

Sure, it can be tempting to take the easy way out, to tell a small lie because no one will be able to prove you lied, to claim credit for someone else's work because they work for you. Yet you will always know that is the wrong choice. Your inner voice will tell you.

Some people are better at ignoring their inner voice than others. They think they can talk loud enough, live fast enough, that they can drown out their inner voice. They can't. It's always there. So is yours.

The Upside

When you have scruples, when you listen to your inner voice, life is easier.

  • You never have to remember your story
    If you always tell the truth, you don't have to worry about what you told who.
  • You are more effective
    When you know you are doing the right thing, it is easier for you to get behind it and push to make it a success.
  • You sleep better
    When your inner voice isn't nagging you, you sleep more soundly. You aren't fighting with yourself.

 The Downside

If you decide to ignore your inner voice, there will be consequences. They may not be obvious or immediate, but they will come.

  • You will be found out
    Regardless of how clever you are, or how practiced a liar you become, you will slip up. Someone will catch you in your lie.
  • You will be less effective
    You will spend so much time and energy covering your tracks that you will get less done.
  • You won't like yourself very much
    Even if no one else knows, you will know.

Manage this issue

The easiest course of action for any manager, the best course, the most effective, is to follow your inner voice. If something seems wrong, don't do it. If you use that moral compass as your guide, you will be a better manager and you will like yourself more. Others will sense it too, and you will be a better manager.